Question # 25: Can you please provide a detailing of the number of children served across the Early Childhood Program Area?

Page updated on Apr 7, 2021 at 2:09 PM

Question:

Can you please provide a detailing of the number of children served across the Early Childhood Program Area, the cost breakdown of each service area, and estimates of the current waiting lists for service in each area (quantity and duration)? Please include the financial impact of plausible service expansions in this area, including the availability of State or Federal dollars. (Mayor Wilson)


Response:

The Early Childhood Program is allocated $8.9 million in the City's FY 2022 Proposed Budget, of which $2.7 million is budgeted for personnel costs for the 23 FTES who work on early childhood issues. The Early Childhood Program budget also includes $6.2 million for non-personnel expenses, of which $5.4 million is allocated for the purchase of childcare services.

The 23.00 FTEs in the Early Childhood Program provide a continuum of services for individuals and families, that include: providing case management for individuals with developmental disorders, enrolling and providing case management services for children in child care services, regulating family child care homes, facilitating the professional development of early childhood providers, delivering early developmental intervention services and implementing early childhood mental health prevention, early intervention and treatment services.

Additionally, the Early Childhood Program receives a State Budget Allocation of $6.8 million for childcare assistance (View Working & Transitional Child Care, Head Start Wrap Around and the Fee System). This funding is expended at the State level for childcare vendors in the City while services are managed locally, and therefore $6.8 million is not reflected in the City budget. The total proposed funding available for childcare assistance/purchased services is $12.2 million for FY 2022.

COVID-19 Adjustments: Funding to support continued policy exceptions that were made during the Covid-19 pandemic response will allow for more children living in families with low incomes to receive quality childcare. CARES Act Funding supported temporary waivers in areas identified as barriers to childcare for both families and providers. Efforts included incentive grants for childcare providers; eliminated co-payments for parents, expanded the number of paid absence days for providers; and increased the maximum reimbursement rates for level 1 providers. Virginia HB2206 was passed which would allow extended income limits to 85% of SMI, allow for job search as an activity and provide a family with a 12-month eligibility period once approved and will not require parents to participate in DCSE. Child Care provisions of the American Rescue Plan will allow for some continued flexibility and greater support for child care providers and families. Refer to the service expansion plausibility section of this response for additional details.

Purchased Child Care Services/Child Care Assistance

Services in FY2022 City Proposed Budget Service Area General Fund Grants/Federal Revenue City’s FY2022 Proposed Budget VDSS State Allocation Outside Financial Custody of Alexandria Total Proposed Program Funding
View Working and Transitional Child Care $0 $0 $0 $2,282,331 $2,282,331
State Child Care Assistance (Subsidy) Program $0 $0 $0 $4,370,489 $4,370,489
Head Start Wrap Around  $0 $0 $0 $187,262 $187,262
Head Start $196,541 $2,386,786 $2,583,327 $0 $2,583,327
DCHS Early Childhood Readiness Services $505,500 $0 $505,500 $0 $505,500
Smart Beginnings $480,000 $0 $480,000 $0 $480,000
Local Child Care Subsidy Program $106,005 0 $106,005 0 $106,005
School Age Child Care* $1,741,835 $0 $1,741,835 $0 $1,741,835
Totals $3,029,881 $2,386,786 $5,416,667 $6,840,082 $12,256,749

*School Age Child Care: Represents the Department’s agreement with The Campagna Center and includes $22,731 for program monitoring and scholarships.

View Working and Transitional Child Care

FY 2022 Budget: $2,282,331

Average number of Children served per month FY 2020: 248

Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

View Working and Transitional Child Care consists of Federal and State funds. These are mandated programs, so funds are made available by the State as they are needed and therefore, these programs have no wait lists. The child target for this program is 163 but due to demonstrated need, the program was authorized to provide care for 248 children.

State Child Care Subsidy Program

FY 2022 State Budget: $4,370489

Average number of Children served per month FY 2020: 476

Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

The approved state target for children to be served in Alexandria remains at 371. No budget adjustments or child targets were made due to the impact of Covid-19 as many families became ineligible for child care due to loss of employment. There were 476 children who were served, and 105 children lost care due to families no longer meeting eligibility requirements. There are 197 children currently in service. There are no children on the waitlist as the program has a rolling application review process. 17 families have applications pending their completion of the application process. Covid-19 restrictions have acerbated challenges of families being able to obtain the needed documents to complete the application process.

Head Start Wrap-Around

FY 2022 State Budget: $187,262

Average number of Children served per month FY 2020: 27

Head Start Wrap-Around funds are 100% Federal and are made available as needed by the State to provide before- and after-school services to Head Start children who need care beyond the 6-hour Head Start program day. The budget is set by the state based on prior year actuals.

Alexandria Head Start

FY 2022 budget: $2,583,327

Average number of Children served per month FY 2020: 238

Number of Children on Waiting List: 11

The Alexandria Head Start (AHS) program is funded for 309 children.  The number of children the program can serve is determined by the funding level provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Head Start Office. Since the onset of the pandemic, the program enrollment declined, and enrollment has not exceeded 238 children. The registration process begins in March each year. 31 children are in the eligibility determination process. 11 children are now on the waiting list for in-person or virtual services. The waiting list is determined by a point system based on factors such as percent of poverty level and violence in the home, not by the date of application. Four-year olds receive priority. Families with fewer factors as compared to others may remain on the waiting list for a longer period, while those with greater needs are prioritized to be placed in a classroom as space becomes available. Families are also referred to other programs for which they might be eligible. The financial eligibility limit for AHS is 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

Financial Impact of Plausible Service Expansions: The CARES Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-136), provided $750 million for programs under the Head Start Act, including up to $500 million for supplemental summer programs. All CARES Act funding, including for voluntary summer programs, was distributed as one-time funding by formula based on each grantee's funded enrollment.

Early Childhood Wraparound Services (formerly Scholarships for 4 Year Olds)

FY 2022 Budget: $480,000

Average number of Children served per month FY 2020: 62

Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

DCHS, in consultation with participating VPI partners and the Bruhn Morris Foundation, identified a child care funding administration plan that closely aligned with service priorities, established a sustainable process for how funding is awarded, and, invites capacity building and partnership innovation through a mixed delivery system that leads to expansion capacity and closing the gap of unmet needs. The name “Scholarship Program for 4 Year Olds” was sunset to reflect the expansion opportunities that now exist to serve pre-school age children and will now be known as “Early Childhood Wraparound Services.”

DCHS Early Childhood Readiness Services

FY 2022 Budget: $505,500

Average number of Children served per month FY 2020: 197

Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

This budget funds $505,500 in local funding from the City of Alexandria for early childhood education services. These funds will be used to provide priority services to 197 children ages 3-to-5 who qualify as "at-risk" and/or who are eligible for Head Start and VPI early childhood programs. To support the early childhood framework, the City will continue FY 2020's $200,000 investment in early childhood education and increase this allocation by $303,500 in order to support expanded summer learning and extended hours during the school year for Alexandria’s VPI, Head Start, and other students who live in low-income households.

Local Child Care Subsidy Fee System

FY2022 Budget: $106,005

Average number of Children served per month FY 2020: 10

Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

This program area is supported 100% through the General Fund. The per child funding amount for local subsidy follows the state subsidy rates which are determined based on the age of the child, program type, any special needs of the child, and attendance frequency. The number of children served can be higher or lower based on these patterns of children enrolled. 

In order to leverage our maximum drawdown of state subsidy dollars, children were moved from local subsidy funding whenever additional state subsidy funding became available. This allowed greater flexibility for meeting the needs of a wider pool of low-income families and to cover budget shortages in the scholarship program for four-year old children.

School Age Child Care

FY 2022 Budget: $1,741,835

Number of Children served FY 2020: 805

Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

FY 2020 enrollment was 805 children. The Campagna Kids program currently has no children on the waiting list for any of its sites. Out of School Time programs were negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic as parents obtained other smaller settings for their children as the City and ACPS supported safer at home virtual options for families. This program is operating on a month to month prorated budget that is based on actual enrollment.

Direct Services Provided by DCHS Clinical Staff

Direct Services Provided by DCHS Clinical Staff General Fund Grants/Other Revenue Proposed Total FY2022 Proposed Budget
Parent Infant Education (PIE) $699,617 $859,077 $1,558,694
 Intellectual Disability Case Management Services $291,370 $0 $291,370
Preschool Mental Health Prevention $295,971 20,479 $316,450
Totals $1,286,958 $879,556 $2,166,514

*Direct services include the personnel total of $1,605,825 and non-personnel total of $560,716

Early Intervention Developmental Disability and Mental Health Services

FY2022 Budget: $2,166,514

Individuals Served /Services Provided FY 2020: 516

Number of Children on Waiting List: 81

These services are provided through three specialized units: Part C Early Intervention (PIE Program); Developmental Disabilities Case Management; and Early Childhood Wellness.

The Part C Early Intervention Program provides assessment, case management and developmental therapy services for children birth to age 3 years utilizing evidence-based practices within the child’s natural environment settings. Services were provided to 384 children in FY 2020, this is down from 574 in FY19. Per Federal law, there can be no waitlist for these services.  In FY 2020, the average monthly caseload per case manager was 80 children. This far exceeds the best practice maximum of 45-50 cases. Two long-term temporary positions in this unit were approved to be converted to full-time permanent positions and this should assist in attracting and retaining high quality staff.  This action was paused during the Covid-19 hiring freeze.

The Youth Developmental Disabilities Program provides intake, assessment, monitoring and support coordination services to individuals age 3- 21 years. The staff in this program served 132 individuals in FY 2020. There are 51 youth waiting for over six months for an intake assessment.  82 youth are waiting for case management services. This program is staffed by 2 FTE of which one position serves a split function as both the supervisor for the program and as a case manager.  In order to meet the service demand and requirements, this program additionally employs one (1) long term temporary employee on a full-time basis. Proposed restructuring of this unit will include the conversion of the temporary position into a fully funded FTE.  Filling this vacancy was impacted by the Covid-19 hiring freeze.

The Preschool Prevention Team provides evidence-based prevention, early intervention and treatment services for preschool children ages 4-6 that are designed to increase social skills and reduce aggressive behavior. The program also provides support and consultation to parents, teachers and administrators. In FY19, the team operated with significant critical staffing vacancies for much of the year to provide 769 hours of mental health consultation in preschool classrooms and 300 hours of early intervention services to young children (0-5 years old) and their families, serving 430 children. In FY 2020, no children were served due to the long-standing vacancies. Recruitment and selection are underway to fill two of the three vacancies.

Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) Budget Managed by Alexandria City Public Schools

Average number of Children served per month FY 2020: 385

The Virginia Preschool Initiative in Alexandria is appropriated and managed by the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and funded in the ACPS budget. 385 children are being served in quality VPI early childhood classrooms: 192 in school-based programs and 193 in community-based child care centers.

Service Expansion Plausibility

Additional state funding supported much needed initiatives for professional development and quality improvements. Additionally, new funding opportunities may become available that could lead to the expanded capacity to support VPI, CLASS observation and professional development as well teacher development. Enhancements to early education funding increased the VPI per pupil amount to $6,959 in FY 2021 and $7,655 in FY 2022. There are opportunities to pilot expansion of VPI to serve 3-year-olds and increase VPI class size & staffing. VPI slots may now be reallocated to eliminate wait lists and there will be private provider and teacher incentives to support stability of the early childhood workforce. When paired with the state funding, the continued investment from the City creates better sustainability for service provision and critical expansion in key areas.  

Question: What additional State dollars are available?

Response: Proposed additions to VPI are designed to both support direct increased funding and opportunities for increased student enrollment.

Proposed Addition What This Means for Divisions
Increase VPI per student amount by 10% VPI Slot Increase of: $1,329.00 (the state increased the VPI slot funding from $6,326.00 to $7,655.00
$5M State Community Provider Add-On for providers who participate in CLASS observations

($640,500)

Add on grant of $3,500 for each of the 183 slots served in a community provider setting decreases the difference between VPI State allocation and the true cost of care. Localities do not pay a match for the add-on. 

Increase in in-kind Up to 50% of local match can be in-kind contributions.
Waiver for increased local criteria More than 15% of slots can be enrolled using locally developed criteria.
Three-Year-Old VPI Pilot Three-year-old students may be served in same or separate classrooms from four-year-old students.
Reduce Waitlists through seat re-allocation Projected unused slots may be reallocated to other divisions.

Question: What is the gap between what we are allocated by the State versus what we are able to enroll within the City (i.e., VPI slots)?

Response: Based on the 2020-2021 Composite Index State projection of 0.8, the total number of at-risk 4-year-old students is 610 slots. The division projected filling 385 slots this school year by first State deadline of Oct. 1, 2021. The division filled 315 slots. The State extended the deadlines to Nov. 16 for full funding and Jan. 8 for 75% funding. Based on the extension, the division filled a total of 334 slots. The gap is 276 slots.

Question: If additional State dollars are available, what would the match requirement be for the City?

Response: The match would be half of the $7,655.00 ($3,827.50) per student if the Governor passes the proposal.

Question: How much could we increase enrollment/available seats with additional State and City investment?

Response: Increasing enrollment would depend on funding the following needs: space for preschool classrooms, personnel, curriculum support, technology, classroom materials, furniture, transportation, and assessments for any new classrooms.

Question: If additional City resources were provided (i.e., American Rescue Plan dollars or others) what areas of need would benefit the most from these resources?

Response: The birth – 3 service areas would be highest priority as existing resources are limited and the costs for child care is the highest for infants and toddlers. Immediate resources would focus on continued stabilization and sustainability of child care programs with direct funding based on the number of children in a community who need child care, and not tied to what parents can afford.

Specific to VPI, resources for instructional coaches to train and support teachers/instructional assistants with the work we are doing so we can build quality; 2 Full-time social workers or counselors to support social-emotional learning and counsel families, staff, students; Rental space for classrooms; and funding for staffing, classroom furniture, assessments, curriculum and technology would be immediate uses of additional City resources.

The Alexandria early childhood community continues to explore ways to address equitable access, and quality through building coordinated structures and connections for children 0-5. Forward thinking for economic sustainability would challenge us to: develop additional spaces to offer child care programs, support professional development in the field and strengthen child care infrastructure by building family child care networks and shared services alliances at the community level.

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