Memo for fiscal year 2020, updated 2019-02-26

[Archived] Question #18: Provide a detailing of the number of children served across the Early Childhood Program Area, the cost breakdown of each area, and estimates of the current waiting lists for service.


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)


The Early Childhood Program is allocated $8.1 million in the City's FY 2020 Proposed Budget. $5.7 million was budgeted for non-personnel across the Early Childhood programs; $4.9 million is allocated for the purchase of child care services. Of this, $2.4 million is budgeted for personnel costs for the 22.34 FTEs who work on early childhood issues.

The 22.34 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 $5.7 million for child care assistance (TANF, Transitional Child Care 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 $5.7 million is not reflected in the City budget. The total funding available for child care assistance/purchased services is $10.6 million for FY 2020.

Purchased Child Care Services/Child Care Assistance

BM 18 - Object 1

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Transitional Child Care

FY 2020 Budget: $1,292,871
Average number of Children served per month FY 2018: 139
Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 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.

State Child Care Subsidy Program

FY 2020 State Budget: $4,156,345 
Average number of Children served per month FY 2018: 433
Number of Children on Waiting List: 14*

*The VaCMS database shows that there are 74 families and 99 children on the waitlist. Of this number, it is estimated that an additional 14 children may be served based on projected expenditures. These families are in varying stages of either providing needed documentation or selecting a child care provider and cannot be purged from the waitlist until their documents or selections are finalized.

Since FY 2017, DCHS maintains a rolling waitlist with families positioned on the waitlist for no more than 30 days when funds are available, and the family is timely in their completion of required documentation and selection of a provider. Efficient waitlist management processes enabled the department to draw down additional State subsidy funds in the amount of $466,260; thereby freeing up local subsidy funds to provide funding in the scholarship program for four-year olds. Virginia conducts a market rate survey before submitting its Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) plan to the Federal Department of Health and Human Services for approval. The survey helps the State assess and establish its reimbursement rates for child care providers participating in the Child Care Subsidy Program. In May of 2018, the State announced a significant rate increase (42%) for both center based and family child care based on child care market rate survey data. This rate increase does not create capacity to increase the number of children served, but rather addresses the issue of subsidized families having to pay providers the difference between their private pay amount and the subsidy payment. With the rate increase effective 6/1/2018, it is anticipated that fewer providers will need to collect additional amounts from families.

The FY 2019 original budget amount for State subsidy was $2,062,711. The program was able to draw down an additional $466,260 based on mid-year spending patterns of moving children off of the waiting list on a rolling basis. An additional $2,093,634 was added to the FY 2019 proposed budget for the increased per day State subsidy rate that went into effect June 2018.

Head Start Wrap-Around

FY 2020 State Budget: $277,105
Average number of Children served per month FY 2018: 55
Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

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.

Alexandria Head Start

FY 2020 budget: $2,599,383
Average number of Children served per month FY 2018: 309
Number of Children on Waiting List: 141

The Alexandria Head Start (AHS) program is funded for 309 children and maintains a waiting list of three- and four-year-olds. 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. The Campagna Center has one VPI classroom and VPI children are included with Head Start children in a blended classroom.

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 of time, while those with greater needs are prioritized to be placed in a classroom as space becomes available. Families are also referred to other early childhood programs for which they might be eligible. The registration process begins in March each year. Three-year olds on the waiting list who turn four by the end of September are given priority. The financial eligibility limit for AHS is 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).

Scholarship Program for Four-Year-Olds

FY 2020 Budget: $253,005
Average number of Children served per month FY 2018: 41
Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

The Scholarship Program for four-year-olds is supported 100% through General Funds and pays child care costs for Virginia Preschool Initiative (VPI) eligible children. $47,047 was used from local subsidy funding to meet the actual spending costs of $300,052 for the Scholarship Program for four-year-olds. As these services are sourced by the General Fund, the same funds can be applied toward the local VPI match requirement.  

The State 3-year market rate survey resulted in a 54% increase in daily rates paid to subsidy child care providers effective June 1, 2018. In turn, 22 fewer scholarship slots were available in FY 2018. We are continuing to work on modeling formulas and assessing the current funding approach for the Scholarship Program for Four-Year-Olds and possibly the local subsidy to address DCHS  interests in bridging resources to programs that serve at-risk four-year-olds by optimizing available local funding to support existing or new high quality early childhood programs that seek to serve children through a mix of delivery approaches that lead to expansion capacity and encourage and reward quality and fulfillment of unmet needs.

Local Child Care Subsidy Fee System

FY 2020 Budget: $331,000
Average number of Children served per month FY 2018: 17
Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

This program area is supported 100% through the General Fund. The budgeted $331,000 is to serve up to 45 additional subsidy eligible children. 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 FY 2018, from this budget a total of $125,154 was spent, ($78,107 was utilized to serve 17 children through local subsidy and $47,047 was utilized to support the Scholarship Program for Four-Year-Olds).

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-olds. 

School Age Child Care

FY 202 Budget: $1,760,233
Number of Children served FY 2018: 805
Number of Children on Waiting List:

The Campagna Kids program has no children on the waiting list for any of its eleven sites. Parents are not restricted to utilizing their child’s assigned school location for after school care and are offered slots at any site when space becomes available. Parents are also referred to other community programs in the City that offer afterschool care. When a wait list exists, the length of waiting time varies depending on the site, parents' needs, preferences and other resources available in the community

BM 18 - Object 2

Early Intervention/ Developmental Disability and Mental Health Services

FY 2020 Budget: $1,784,225
Individuals Served /Services Provided FY 2018: 1,248
Number of Children on Waiting List:

The Parent-Infant Education (PIE) program provides early intervention, assessment, case management and treatment services for children 0-21 years of age. The services are provided through three specialized units: Part C Early Intervention; 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 574 children in FY 2018. Per Federal law, there can be no wait-list for these services. In FY 2018, the average caseload per case manager was 71 children. This far exceeds the best practice maximum of 45-50 cases

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 125 individuals in FY 2018. Of these, 24 children and youth were enrolled in active case management and, 101 individuals received on-going support and monitoring in order to access Medicaid Waiver programs. This program is staffed by 2 FTEs 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 would include the conversion of the temporary position into a fully funded FTE.

The Early Childhood Wellness Program (formerly 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 FY 2018, the team provided 1,539 hours of mental health consultation in preschool classrooms and 410 hours of early intervention services to young children (0-5 years old) and their families, serving 549 children.

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

Average number of Children served per month FY 2018: 38

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

The continuing key challenges to expanding capacity are the lack of appropriate and affordable space and the need for higher match funding. The Federally calculated cost of $6,125 per eligible child, with program costs shared by the State and local governments, leaves funding gaps that are filled using additional local general funds. The actual per child costs to serve a child in an Alexandria VPI classroom ranges from $12,009 to $14,599. While additional funds are coming from the State, those are largely for professional development and quality improvements. The Early Care and Education Work Group is continuing to review the use of current local dollars and to seek other funds from private, State and Federal sources to attempt to address the capacity gap.

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