Memo for fiscal year 2021, updated 2020-02-27

[Archived] Question # 38: Can you provide a refresh of FY 2020 Budget Question 18?


Can you provide a refresh of FY 2020 Budget Question 18?  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 Childhood Program is allocated $8.4 million in the City's FY 2021 Approved Budget. $5.2 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, $2.7 million is budgeted for personnel costs for the 23.00 FTEs who work on early childhood issues.  

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 $8.3 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 $8.3 million is not reflected in the City budget. The total funding available for child care assistance/purchased services is $13.3 million for FY 2021.                    

Purchased Child Care Services/Child Care Assistance

Services in FY2021 City Proposed Budget Service Area General Fund Grants/Other Revenue Total FY2021 Proposed Budget VDSS Allocation Outside Financial Custody of Alexandria Total Proposed Program Funding
TANF and Transitional Child Care $0 $0 $0 $2,907,137 $2,907,137
State Child Care Subsidy Program $0 $0 $0 $5,066,450 $5,066,450
Head Start Wrap Around $0 $0 $0 $373,034 $373,034
Head Start $196,541 $2,386,786 $2,583,327 $0 $2,583,327
Scholarships for 4s $253,005 $0 $253,005 $0 $253,005
Local Child Care Subsidy Program $331,000 0 $331,000 0 $331,000
School Age Child Care* $1,741,835 $0 $1,741,835 $0 $1,741,835
Totals $2,522,381 $2,386,786 $4,909,167 $8,346,621 $13,255,788

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

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

FY 2021 Budget: $2,907,137

Average number of Children served per month FY 2019: 303

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 2021 State Budget: $5,066,450

Average number of Children served per month FY 2019: 442

Number of Children on Waiting List: 41*

*Currently there are 41 children on the waitlist. We have authorization to serve 23 children from the waitlist and 22 of them are in varying stages of either providing needed documentation or selecting a childcare provider. One slot is being held to serve an emergency childcare need for a newborn whose family is involved with the child welfare system.  

The State notified localities in January 2020, that they could not fund additional children for childcare subsidies.  Localities were required to re-instate their waitlists. Since FY 2017, DCHS maintained a rolling waitlist with families positioned on the waitlist for no more than 30 days when funds were available, and the family completed their required documentation and selection of a provider.  Efficient waitlist management processes enabled the department to draw down its maximum state subsidy funds in FY19 and FY20; thereby freeing up local subsidy funds to provide funding in the scholarship program for four-year olds. The current market rate survey is in progress and will be a likely driver for future state funding.   The 2018 market rate survey resulted in a 42% increase for both center based and family child care.  

Head Start Wrap-Around

FY 2021 State Budget: $373,034

Average number of Children served per month FY 2019: 48

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 increased funding amount reflects the mandatory increased hourly rate.  

Alexandria Head Start

FY 2021 budget: $2,583,327

Average number of Children served per month FY 2019: 309

Number of Children on Waiting List: 95

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 programs for which they might be eligible. The registration process begins in March each year. The financial eligibility limit for AHS is 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL).  

Scholarship Program for 4 Year Olds

FY 2021 Budget: $480,000

Average number of Children served per month FY 2019: 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 the service priorities, establishes 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” will sunset to reflect the expansion opportunities that now exist to serve pre-school age children and will now be known as “DCHS Early Childhood Readiness Services”.      

Local Child Care Subsidy Fee System

FY2021 Budget: $104,005

Average number of Children served per month FY19: 17

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 olds.  

School Age Child Care

FY 2021 Budget: $1,741,835

Number of Children served FY19: 805

Number of Children on Waiting List: 0

The Campagna Kids program has no children on the waiting list for any of its eleven sites. Parents are 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.  

Direct Services Provided by DCHS Clinical Staff

Direct Services Provided by DCHS Clinical Staff* General Fund Granting/Other Revenue Proposed Total FY2021 Proposed Budget
Parent Infant Education (PIE) $528,142 $880,751 $1,408,893
 Intellectual Disability Case Management Services $391,405 $0 $391,405
Preschool Mental Health Prevention $304,035 $37,912 $341,947
Totals $1,223,582 $918,663 $2,142,245

*Direct services include the personnel total of $1,267,888 and non-personnel total of $874,357*  

Early Intervention/ Developmental Disability and Mental Health Service

FY2021 Budget: $2,142,245

Individuals Served /Services Provided FY19: 1,138

Number of Children on Waiting List: None

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 FY19. Per Federal law, there can be no waitlist for these services.  In FY19, the average monthly caseload per case manager approached 85 children.  This far exceeds the best practice maximum of 45-50 cases. Two long-term temporary positions in this unit will be converted to full-time permanent and this should assist in attracting and retaining high quality staff.  

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 134 individuals in FY19. Of these, 29 children and youth were enrolled in active case management and, 105 individuals received on-going support and monitoring in order to access Medicaid Waiver programs.  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 would include the conversion of the temporary position into a fully funded FTE.  

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.  

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

Average number of Children served per month FY19: 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

The programs will seek  to access any new state and federal funding in order to implement its revised approach for moving the system to a more financially sustainable framework for providers, stabilization of existing service provision and closing of significant funding gaps between actual costs of services and existing state and local funding support.  Additional funds coming from the state have largely supported much needed professional development and quality improvements. Without additional local funds, opportunities to pilot any expansion of VPI children served will not be feasible.

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