Early Childhood Integrated Financing Toolkit
Integrated Financing Information Sheet
Virginia is committed to advancing school readiness for young children to help them be prepared for success in school, the workforce, and life. To achieve this complex goal, Virginia recognizes the need and urgency to convene its leaders, policymakers, and families to envision and create an effective and sustainable system of early childhood care and education (ECCE).
Virginia’s current ECCE landscape is characterized by a diverse group of providers, (including Head Start, VPI, child care centers, family day homes, religious-exempt programs, early childhood special education (ECSE), and early intervention services) as well as a myriad of federal and state programs to support specific needs of children and families.
This diversity is a strength in that it allows for a wide array of services, but it can also feel chaotic to recipients and lead to gaps in services. Each public sector funding stream has its own requirements and accountability, and those requirements are frequently in tension with each other.
While challenging, it is possible to build a more cohesive system. However, this process will require communities to develop a shared vision for ensuring that all families have access to the early childhood services that can equip young children to be ready for school and life. A range of relevant players will need to convene to agree on the vision and to design and implement a framework for a coherent, equitable, and seamless system that supports child development and family strength from prenatal to school age. Additionally, many implementation details will need to be discussed and clarified, including: how and where eligibility is determined at the local level, which neighborhoods need expanded services or targeted dollars, which children and families should be highest priority, which service providers are best positioned to address unmet needs in the short and long-term, and more.
VECF believes that systems-building can help solve some of the most pressing issues surrounding school readiness in the Commonwealth. To that end, we have developed the Integrated Financing (IF) Toolkit, a comprehensive document that provides an overview of both federally and state funded programs designed to serve children birth to age 5. Included in this resource are explanations of:
• How funds are allocated and disbursed from the source to service delivery
• Entities responsible for managing funds at the state and local levels
• Amount of funding available statewide
• Program descriptions, including purpose and cost to family
• Eligibility criteria
• Program and funding standards.
In addition to the toolkit, we have developed a Self-Assessment tool which builds on the Coordinated Enrollment Self-Assessment Tool and process developed and required for PDG B-5 pilots. Non-PDG B-5 communities may access information about the Coordinated Enrollment Self-Assessment Tool and process at http://smartbeginnings.org/virginia-early-childhood-integrated-financing/. Enrollment and financing are deeply interconnected and Virginia communities are encouraged to think comprehensively about how these processes are governed, planned for and implemented at the
In addition to the Integrated Financing Toolkit and IF Self-Assessment Tool, the state, through PBG B-5, is working with relevant partners to gather reliable community-level data about: the need for services to young children, the current availability of services, and the gap to be addressed. Some of these critically important resources are:
• Fiscal Map. A community level assessment of the financial resources available to serve children birth-5 with early childhood care and education services, by program type and source; and a summary of demographic characteristics of young children in those geographic boundaries. Some communities have completed fiscal maps; others may access resources and a tutorial to explore fiscal mapping on the VECF website.
• VECF Integrated Financing Toolkit. A comprehensive review of funding streams, programs, eligibility criteria and guidelines, and key community stakeholders responsible for ensuring early childhood care and education services for children birth-5 in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
• VA Child Care Mapping Project. Child Care Aware of Virginia’s child care mapping project is designed to enable viewers to see the various types of child care programs throughout Virginia and overlaid with child poverty data.
*Specific thus far to PDG B-5 pilot communities:
• Coordinated Enrollment Self-Assessment Tool. An activity that PDG B-5 pilot communities have undertaken to convene ECCE stakeholders with the goal of coordinating outreach and enrollment practices to maximize services for children 0-5. Non-PDG B-5 communities may access this resource here.
• LinkB5 Data Portal. A data portal designed for the PDG B-5 pilot communities, sites, and teachers to capture information on access and quality from (at a minimum) all early education programs receiving public funds to serve young children with early childhood care and education services. At this time, only PDG B-5 communities have access to this resource.
Convening Local Stakeholders
Information and data are only valuable when they are used by stakeholders to craft and implement a vision for comprehensive services for all children and families in that community. The Integrated Financing Self-Assessment Tool has been developed to assist communities in identifying, collecting, and utilizing data and information. This document will guide community stakeholders through a process designed to improve the coordination of multiple programs and funding streams with the goal of “utilizing every available dollar to serve every child who needs these resources.”
In a process similar to the recent PDG B-5 Coordinated Enrollment Self-Assessment, communities are being asked to convene a group of stakeholders that represent the full spectrum of the ECCE community.* This group should include representatives from diverse sectors and systems of services including, but not limited to: early childhood education delivered in the home as well as public and private settings; services for children with learning challenges, disabilities, and English language learners; and, health, mental health, and family screening.
Using the relevant documents, the collaborative group will respond to a set of questions that will expand their understanding of the needs of young children, the current delivery of services to meet these needs, and the gaps in services within their local community.
The Integrated Financing Self-Assessment Tool also invites stakeholders to identify action steps that will begin to address the need for improved coordination and more comprehensive services in the community. Because of this, communities will want to identify a process for continued engagement and monitoring of progress toward this shared vision.
As a part of an initial convening, the group should address logistical considerations including:
• Who will lead/facilitate the collaborative’s work?
• How often will the group need to meet?
• How will communication flow between group members in between meetings?
• Who else needs to be at the table, and how will outreach take place?