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Why DOE’s birth-to-five RFPs need to be fixed

Community-based organizations are the backbone of Mayor de Blasio’s effort to expand early childhood education programs and are largely responsible for the success of his Pre-K and 3-K expansions.

Earlier this year, the Department of Education (DOE) released new requests for proposals that are the first step in creating an integrated, birth-to-five early education system.

After analyzing the RFP with our partners, we joined 70 other organizations urging the DOE to withdraw the RFP. For the reasons outlined below, we believe the current proposals would harm teachers, service providers, children and families, and communities.

In addition to failing to pay early educators equitably, the RFPs would negatively impact program quality and pose significant risks to the stability of programs. We urge the DOE to address these programmatic and fiscal risks in the RFPs and invest the resources needed to ensure that early education services — and thus children — are set up to succeed.

The current RFPs risk program quality and system stability because they:

1

Allow the DOE to pay providers less than what is needed to cover all costs by penalizing providers if enrollment dips. Yet, DOE will handle all enrollment centrally, taking recruitment power out of the hands of the service providers.

2

Reduce the quality of services for families whose children rely on extended day and summer programming by creating a new distinction between “core” and “non-core” hours.

3

Do not provide funding for indirect costs such as program management and oversight, administrative operations, facilities, and organizational insurance policies are critical to keep programs running.

4

Keep program reimbursement flat for five to eight years setting providers up for major budget gaps.

5

Perpetuate salary disparity by failing to close the wage gap between early education teachers at CBOs and their peers at DOE schools.

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