Children’s Mental Health RFP Q&As (final, last updated July 22, 2023 at 12 p.m.)
The deadline is coming up and I still have questions. What should I do?
ECT staff will be able to answer technical questions related to navigating SAMIS and troubleshooting your online submissions up until the deadline.
However, to be fair and equitable to all applicants, we won’t be able to respond to non-technical questions within 24 hours of the deadline (in other words, staff won’t be able to answer your non-technical question after 5 p.m. CT on July 25, which is within 24 hours of the final deadline of 5 p.m. CT on July 26).
What final tips do you have that can help us be successful?
Read carefully through all of the materials provided in the RFP and on the landing page. Make sure you have captured all of the requirements in your program design and budget documentation.
Listen to the office hours recordings, if you missed them, and read through all of the questions and answers posted on this page.
Read the scoring rubric carefully. You will be evaluated based on this tool. To get the maximum number of points (125), make sure you’re answering every component!
Include additionnal details and show support for your project by uploading subcontracts, MOUs and letters of support from partners into SAMIS.
Clearly write a compelling needs assessment that incorporates specific data (#, %, quotes from survey results) on the state of the population you want to target. Use the data and source material from ECT’s needs assessment and include at least one citation as required.
Then take the time to explain why your program is the solution. How is it evidence-based? What specific change does your program target? How will you know this change will lead to improved mental health outcomes? What methods will you use to continuously improve? Who are the highly qualified adults on your team and how will they be trained, nurtured and supported?
Be specific and detailed. Avoid broad generalizations and vague statements. The Review Committee is an expert panel – the more precise your application, the better.
You mentioned “double dipping” is not allowed in one of the office hours sessions. Can you describe what you mean by that?
The concept of ensuring the government doesn’t pay for the same expense twice, commonly referred to as “double dipping,” is new to many providers.The prohibition against double dipping is common in government, and is often explicitly prohibited by various federal, state and local government programs. An organization can be surprised by this if it fails to track expenses carefully when spending multiple sources of funding.
ECT limits eligible costs to specific categories or charges to run a very specific program. Documentation is key! It’s important for your organization to ensure adequate cost tracking controls are established to guarantee funds aren’t being charged to multiple funding sources more than once. You should keep appropriate records and cost documentation as required in the ECT contract. This will support the allocation of costs across funding sources and allow an organization comfort in knowing they’re not double dipping their costs, which could result in noncompliance of their ECT grants. You will be able to request budget revisions, if available. Based on your funding source, consider asking for a budget revision to transfer payroll costs, for example, to other allowable direct costs under the grant. When in doubt, ECT staff are happy to offer further assistance or information. If you have additional questions, we encourage you to be proactive and reach out to gain clarity.
If noncompliance occurs, contracted organizations could face repercussions, including but not limited to, the need to repay funds. Double dipping could also result in financial statements or a single audit finding related to internal control deficiencies or noncompliance with laws and regulations. In some cases, the auditor may report questioned costs for amounts applied to multiple programs.
How should we calculate the number of children we expect to serve? We are considering a variety of approaches, including direct-service, high dosage programs that would reach 100 youth and lighter touches such as text-messaging that might reach 1,000 youth. Which number do we include in SAMIS?
Please include the number of youth who would benefit from the direct service. You are encouraged to describe the full scope of your program in the budget narrative, including text-messaging communication, but be clear that the youth whose outcomes you will track and report on are those receiving the direct service. This is in your best interest – if you report you will directly serve 1,000 youth, ECT will monitor your agency with the expectation of seeing outcomes data in SAMIS on 1,000 youth. Similarly, if you report you will directly serve 1,000 youth but your actual service footprint is much smaller, ECT reserves the right to deny or modify your reimbursement request based on your actual service footprint.
What is required to be a lead agent or fiscal agent?
This is the same thing; the terms are used interchangeably. Lead agencies/fiscal agents must meet all eligibility requirements for the grant and must submit applications under their name. The lead agency will submit invoices for all reimbursement requests and will coordinate with the other agencies included in their application. The lead agency provides oversight and is accountable for all performance measures in the contract, including those to be delivered via subcontract. ECT payments will be made only to the lead agency, which in turn will reimburse the subcontractor agencies.
I’d like to offer participating youth stipends and incentives for their successful participation in my program. Likewise for their parents to attend mental health programming – we’d like to reimburse them for transportation and childcare. Are stipends and incentives allowable costs?
Stipends and incentives in the form of cash and gift cards are not allowed. However, your agency could choose to offer “Direct Client Assistance” as a way to support youth mental health and reward youth for improvements in their behavioral outcomes. Examples of direct client assistance for low-income youth include clothing, shoes, haircuts, healthy food, hygiene kits, etc. Please budget for “Direct Client Assistance” as a line item in your budget and include a detailed explanation of how this fund will be administered in your budget narrative.
For transportation and child care costs, your agency would need to directly reimburse the vendor or provider, not the parents/families.
Transportation: Consider setting up an account with a taxi or ride-sharing service such as zTrip, which would bill your agency for each ride. Your agency would, in turn, after paying for the service and showing the appropriate documentation in your reimbursement request, be able to submit a reimbursement request to ECT.
Child care: This expense is more complicated to approve because of the extensive licensing and background requirements tied to adult child care professionals supervising children. Consider offering child care on site, and paying for qualified adults directly caring for children as 1099 independent contractors for their services billed hourly. If that’s not feasible, perhaps because you don’t have the space, demand, or ability to hire and screen child care workers, then you wouldn’t be able to submit reimbursement requests for child care.
I need to rent administrative office space for training employees, team conferennces and in general working on the ECT project. I’m looking at leasing coworking space. Two questions: (1) Is this an eligible expense? (2) Does the office space have to be located in the targeted geographic area?
(1) Yes, just be sure to monitor and closely track how many hours are being used for the ECT-funded component of your organizational affairs. If 50% of the space is used to handle the ECT-funded program, then you would be reimbursed for 50% of the rental costs. Coworking space is acceptable.
(2) Only direct services need to be located in the targeted geographic areas described in the RFP. Administrative space does not have to be located in the targeted ZIP codes.
Where can I upload job descriptions for new positions and resumes for staff who will be assigned to the ECT-funded project?
Please upload these documents to the MOU section of SAMIS. Clearly label and name all uploaded files.
What if my service is located in the targeted geographic area, but I serve youth who live outside it?
The proposed Projects responding to this RFP should target census tracts within the three ZIP codes identified. Youth/families who live outside the targeted census tract communities may receive services when gaps in the system do not adequately provide for their needs. In your narrative, specify how you will serve communities that have been marginalized AND that you are operating in an area where there is a high need for support.
For MOUs, contracts or agreements for all proposed subcontracts, what is the ”Subcontractor MOU Checklist?” Please see the checklist items below:
Is there a clear description of how the contracting entity (agency) and subcontracting entity relate to one another?
Are the commencement/renewal time period(s) clearly defined?
Is there a clear descriptio
n of services to be provided?
Are the costs of the services clearly stated?
Is there clear explanation how payment is to be made and by when?
Is the information required on invoices and requirements for other backup documentation to make payment clearly outlined?
Are conditions of termination described (the subcontractor must be terminable at any time, for any reason)?
Is program monitoring described and sufficient to ensure delivery of quality services as outlined in the subcontract?
Are the terms for confidentiality outlined and do they align with the terms as defined in the ECT agreement?
Are the full Public Records requirements included as defined in the ECT agreement?
Are special situations and incidents addressed and do they include the “when,” “how,” and “to whom” to report incidents?
Are there requirements outlined for Background Screening as defined in the ECT agreement?
Are insurance requirements included in the subcontract or does your agency insurance cover the subcontractors service delivery?
Am I able to be subcontracted under a larger non-profit if I do not currently hold an LLC for my business.?
It doesn’t matter what type of structure your business has (LLC, corporation, sole proprietor, etc.), but you do have to be licensed to do business in the State of Florida. Otherwise, you could be a subcontractor as a 1099 consultant.
Can a 1099 independent contractor charge indirect?
According to the RFP, the deadline for question submission is July 19 and the last posting of answers is July 20. Will that preclude the scheduled Office Hours on July 21? Or will we still be able to ask questions on July 21 during the regular office hours Zoom meeting?
Questions asked during office hours on Friday, July 21 are allowed and will be included in the final Q&A on this page.
The RFP requires “detailed demographic information is included for organizational leadership (including Board of Directors as appropriate) and staff who will be engaged in the delivery of services.” Are there specific types of demographic information desired such as sex, race, age, etc.?
Please be as specific as possible. There are no exact criteria. In addition to the demographics you listed, you might want to include location information, and specify whether the person engaged in the delivery of services also resides in Escambia County.
Unless I missed it so far, I do not see a place in SAMIS to load any Letters of Support or Memos of Agreement. I do see that at least one is required in the scoring criteria. Please advise.
The option to upload letters of support and memorandums of agreement is now live in SAMIS. This is not required but strongly encouraged; applicants with letters of support might score higher, as the proposer’s ability to demonstrate community support is a question in the scoring rubric.
My company/team consists of 1099 contractors that currently deliver services. Some members of my team will be providing services for our proposed program. Do I need to consider each individual rendering services as a “subcontractor” in the application?
If it’s companies that you are proposing to contract with then those should be listed as subcontractors. If it is an individual that you would be issuing a 1099 for then they should be included under the “Consultant & Professional Fees” line item and described in the budget narrative.
For the RFP, I need to clarify where to place expenses for youth informal mental health support services. The intent is for the program to refer children/youth to multiple local community-centric licensed personal care providers to receive free (to them) services. The personal care providers will not be considered staff (they will receive a 1099 each year) and will be trained by the professional association, not the program. They will be background screened as volunteers for the program, to ensure safety of the youth served. I intend to place the above-described program expenses in the category of “Consultant and Professional Fees.” Please advise if this budget placement described above is appropriate.
1099 staff should go under “Consultant and Professional Fees” and the detail should be explained in the budget narrative. We do have a “Subscription and Membership” account where you can allocate actual membership fees. Finally, traininng expenses should be included and described in the “Professional Development” account line item.
For the Project Plan section, under the identify EBP section, it states to cite one credible source that will be implemented in our program. We have a few studies we would like to incorporate. Is it ok to briefly cite multiple sources?
It is fine to briefly cite multiple sources.
Multi-year contract questions: Is there room for negotiating after the first year if we need more or less funding? Do we have to apply for a multi-year contract? What if our needs and capacity change? Is it going to be possible to amend the requests for years 2 and 3?
The scope of the project should remain the same over the course of the project period, so only minor budget amendments will be considered. No changes to the program design or proposed outcomes will be allowed once the contract is executed. We recommend you include a 10% annual increase to account for inflation and other fluctuations in the economy. Yes, we are looking to fund multi-year programs and services that meet critical needs facing children and will show outcomes over a longer term basis. A good application should provide a master plan, a vision of where the project is going, and the expected results over a three-year timeline.
Is there a project budget template we should be uploading in SAMIS?
Is there funding available for professional certifications for staff to become certified in some type of behavioral health care training?
Yes, that is an eligible expense. The Review Committee will closely consider how you’re supporting the training of your adult workers. Please explain in your narrative the staffing plan, role descriptions and training requirements of those staff involved in the ECT-funded program, including any peer specialist certification requirements, community mental health certifications, etc.
For the evidence-based requirement, can that be an evidence-based assessment instrument or case management approach, or should it be an evidence-based curriculum or model for service delivery?
Any of the above, and the more the better! If you’re asking for training, that’s an opportunity to say why that training is evidence-based. If it’s curriculum, state why that curriculum is evidence-based. It might be that your approach is unique, but within the specifics of program delivery, you are using evidence-based approaches (e.g. collaborative problem-solving).
The Pockets of Poverty map is hard to navigate. Is there another tool we can use to target geographic services?
I have a question regarding services for the parent or family. Can we provide support to the parent but not the child?
You must serve the child first and then their family. You can’t serve the family without the child, per our enabling ordinance.
What about telehealth or virtual service delivery? Is that something that’s possible?
You would need to make a compelling case that that would work, and include citations to evidence-based virtual service delivery methods. What results are you looking for? How is that going to affect the outcome versus a traditional in-person service? What is the research that shows your virtual program will work?
We have several organizations that want to serve the same population. Can organizations collaborate on proposals or should we submit individual proposals? Could potential applicants also be subcontractors for other applicants?
We strongly encourage collaboration rather than individual proposals for organizations serving the same population in the same way! Please keep in mind that one of the members of the collaborative would have to be the lead agency responsible for fiscal oversight. Also, Respondents may be the lead agency of the program they run and also serve as a subcontractor to another Respondent’s program. Reciprocal agreements, memorandums of understanding, and strong fiscal policies on awarding subcontracts must all be in place for such an arrangement to receive Escambia Children’s Trust reimbursements.
I know we can’t provide services during school hours. But what if the child isn’t in school – because they’ve dropped out or maybe they’re suspended out-of-school or working on their GED at night but available during the day.
Yes, that would be a case of urgent need and an automatic qualifier for services under this RFP. Please be sure to document the youth’s status because it will need to be tracked in our data system (e.g., suspended/expelled, dropout/GED, homeless, not enrolled).
What if the youth has an open DCF case or on supervision with DJJ?
We are focused on pre-system involvement with this RFP but you could make the case for enhanced, non-traditional services to help round out a traditional program. This RFP is interested in serving youth before they’re involved in the system. But if you have system-involved youth and you can make the argument this enhancement will fill gaps and go above and beyond to give youth the best chance to be successful upon release and not reenter the system, then you would meet eligibility. Please take the time to describe in depth how this enhanced scope of services will benefit youth who are system-involved as they re-enter their families and communities.
We are looking to enhance our exisiting program. Do you foresee any issues if our referral source is from one entity?
Maybe, because we are not interested in duplicating services and cannot supplant existing services. We’re set up to fund “gaps and cracks” and “above and beyond.” Your baseline needs to exist and continue. Then think about how Escambia Children’s Trust funding can layer on in addition to what your organization is already doing. Can you add additional children through another relationship or referral source? Perhaps you can think about enhancements in Year 1 and expansion in Years 2 and 3.
Are applicants applying for 3-year grants?
Yes, this is a one-time grant application for up to three years of funding. Reapplying will not be necessary, but we will require program monitoring, performance assessments, budget monitoring, agency audits, and annual multi-year grant renewal agreements.
What is your cost-reimbursement timeline?
All funding released to providers who are awarded ECT contracts is through cost-reimbursement. Expenses cannot exceed budget and be eligible for reimbursement without approval from our Board of Directors, via a budget amendment. We aim to reimburse applicants within 30 days of receiving invoices, receipts and other supporting documentation as required. ACH (electronic) payments are received by the provider quicker than mailed checks.
We have a fiscal sponsor outside of Escambia County. Is that possible?
Absolutely, as long as the fiscal sponsor has the capacity to handle cost reimbursement AND your local program is serving children and their families living in the targeted ZIP codes set forth in this RFP within Escambia County, Florida.
Is there a ceiling amount for individuals to receive funding?
Generally no, ask for what you need. Keep in mind that everything in your budget must relate to the purpose of your proposal, it must be reasonable, and you have to explain why you need it. This is a competition – please keep your costs competitive.
In addition, ECT considers a workweek 40 hours. We will not reimburse an individual’s time in excess of 40 hours. If you are requesting 100% reimbursement for a staff member or contractor, their workweek cannot exceed 40 hours and 100% of their time must be dedicated to this specific ECT-funded project.
Who should be background screened?
Please see this DCF website, “Who Should Be Screened?” for the detailed background screening criteria we follow at ECT. The Provider acknowledges that persons involved with ECT-funded programs may be in a position of trust or responsibility serving the needs of the children of Escambia County. ECT requires all Providers to perform Level 2 background screenings every two years for all staff funded by ECT who are in direct unsupervised contact with children. If a staff member has been screened through the DCF Clearinghouse or another system that provides immediate arrest notifications, then staff may be screened every 5 years. All screenings are to be substantially consistent with the standards set forth in Florida Statute 435.04.
Indirect costs: What is the allowable percent for indirect costs and what may those costs cover?
Indirect costs are the costs that can’t be directly attributed to a program. Common examples include administrative costs such as the services of your human resources and fiscal staff.
ECT will allow up to a 15% indirect rate. The rate that is approved in the application will be used to calculate the monthly reimbursement amount based on the expenses submitted. For example, if the rate is 15% and you have $1,000 in expenses submitted, then amount you can charge for indirect costs will be $150. You are not required to submit invoices or receipts for indirect costs; it is merely a calculation applied against your direct costs.
New organizations will have a difficult time complying with the requirements set forth in the ECT contract (see below for a link to our 2023 contract template). ECT requires at least three years of financial statements and extensive proof of organizational fitness to do business with us as a government agency. FL Ch. 496.407 requires audits for charitable organizations as follows: For those receiving annual contributions of $1 million or more an independent audit is required; for those with annual contributions of at least $500,000 but less than $1 million, the financial statements may be reviewed or audited by an independent CPA, and for those with less than $500,000 in annual contributions, a compilation, audit, or review of the financial statement is optional. We encourage you to consider partnering with a more established provider.
Are there any eligible restrictions on how funds can be used?
Grant funds may not be used for any of the following activities:
Serving youth from other counties beyond Escambia County, Florida
Any service that merely benefits children and youth incidentally and not directly
Acquisition of any capital item not for primary and direct use by children and youth
Acquisition of real property (excluding leases for a term of 12 months or less)
Maintenance, utilities, or similar operating costs of a facility not used primarily and directly by the funded program
Depreciation on buildings or equipment
Religious worship, instruction, or proselytization
Is it permissible to pay for a service provided by licensed vocational provider or someone in a licensed vocational trade, such as self-care services to benefit youth on their way to mental wellness and postsecondary success (haircuts, GED fees, certification fees, driver’s license fees, sports fees, etc.)?
Yes, these are eligible expenses. Please think carefully about how you would handle cost reimbursement (e.g. procedures to track receipts, invoices and the paperwork associated with each service) and do your best to estimate the costs of these services in your budget under the line item “Direct Client Assistance.”
I’d like to see an example contract with the Escambia Children’s Trust, so I can determine if my agency can handle the requirements of this RFP.
We are so glad you’re thinking ahead. Please click HERE for our 2023 contract template.
Are programs that occur during school hours eligible for funding through this RFP?
No, the intent of this funding opportunity is to support programs that serve children and youth outside of traditional school hours. Providing supportive, engaging, and enriching environments with caring, trusted adults outside of school can not only keep kids safe but can also keep them out of trouble and improve their academic outcomes, as well as their social and emotional development.
If my organization exists in other counties, what data are you wanting us to present to the Trust?
We recognize your footprint and budget may be bigger than Escambia County. In response to this RFP, and to avoid confusion, please include only the data that reflects your service footprint in Escambia County.