Frequently Asked Questions
With occasional exceptions, Best Starts uses a universal RFP template so that applicants do not have to “re-invent the wheel” with each proposal they develop. Rating criteria will vary per RFP, but Best Starts will generally score proposals on the following areas:
- Strength and viability of the proposed idea
- How the proposal will address inequities, disparities, and disproportionality in underserved populations
- If applicable, how the program is youth-led or meaningfully incorporates the voices and lived experiences of youth
Each RFP might include additional rating criteria.
No evaluation plan is required for the proposal, so it’s not necessary to hire anyone to develop a plan. The Best Starts for Kids Data and Evaluation team and program staff will work with grantees after funding decisions are made to develop an evaluation plan. There is also technical assistance available to support you when preparing your application. Each RFP announcement will direct you to the available technical assistance which can help you in all elements of writing your proposal.
Best Starts seeks diverse perspectives for its RFP review panels, including community leaders, parents, and youth. We recognize the importance of bringing to the decision-making process the unique insights and lived experiences of people who come from and work in their communities, especially people of color. Best Starts is requiring all review panelists, including King County staff and Best Starts Children and Youth Advisory Board members, to participate in an equity training to examine and combat their own biases when assessing and reviewing applications.
Best Starts views its relationship with awardees as an ongoing partnership characterized by respect and mutual learning. Best Starts staff meet with awarded organizations to build relationships and agree upon budget details, data gathering, performance measures and evaluation, all the while identifying capacity building needs so that Best Starts can support the organization to accomplish its work.
Prenatal to Five Strategies
The Innovation Fund is specific to prenatal to five work. It is our response to communities sharing that they want support for programs and practices that are new and effective ways of supporting their unique community and do not fit into other existing Best Starts investment strategies.
The Innovation Fund seeks to:
- Strengthen and/or amplify community-informed programs and practices that provide a solution identified by the community and/or those experiencing the issue.
- Document what works and why so that innovative solutions can potentially grow and expand.
- Improve equity by ensuring that programs meet the needs of marginalized communities, including communities of color, refugee and immigrant communities, LGBTQ communities, and those with special needs.
- Address emergent challenges or capitalize on emergent opportunities as the County advances the Best Starts for Kids Implementation Plan.
Community feedback prioritizes the need for better prenatal-to-five service coordination and improved access to information for families, so that families receive the appropriate support where and when they need it. The Best Starts Help Me Grow framework will provide a new system of teamwork to support families and children by building on the strengths of communities through reliable communication and strong community and system linkages. This will make it more efficient and effective for medical providers, home visitors, child-care providers and community-based programs to respond to the needs of children and families in communities all across King County.
This new system will establish a well-coordinated network that relies on one-on-one interactions between system navigators and families and an accessible centralized center that provides comprehensive information on available services. Through implementation of the Best Starts Help Me Grow framework, we will be able to help weave together services within and across communities, assuring that there is no wrong door for families needing referrals and access.
No. Thanks to its new funding partnership with King County Best Starts for Kids and the City of Seattle’s Department of Education and Early Learning, United Way will be granting more funding to serve more children and families than ever. In response to significant investments from King County and City of Seattle, United Way has redoubled its private fundraising efforts around PCHP and is contributing twice as much in annual funding as it had planned to.
Home-Based Services will fund already-existing and new programs and models. We will administer two open request for proposal processes:
- Evidence-Based and Evidence-Informed Programs: Best Starts will invest $2.5 million in home visiting models that have some level of established research evidence. The RFP was open to programs already operating those models as well as those utilizing the model for the first time.
- Community-Informed Programs and Practices: Best Starts will invest $2.5 million in innovative and/or adapted home visiting programs designed for a specific community. They should be valued by that community, embedded in cultural and social conditions, and/or address populations for which Evidence-based practices or Evidence-informed practices have not been developed. The RFP will be open to programs already operating services as well as those launching new services.
The biggest difference is that programs funded for Out of School Time have to fall outside of school hours. Youth development activities can happen any time of day and will not have “dosage” requirements (for example it could happen 1-2 times a month vs. 3-4 times a week). Youth Development is funding programs that specifically focus on mentoring, positive identity development, youth leadership opportunities and healthy and safe relationships. Out of School Time focuses on supporting programs that are also involved (or will be involved) at some level in a quality assessment process.
Data and Evaluation
We are using the Results Based Accountability framework, a national model that begins by asking, “What difference do we want to make?” and works to determine the strategies for getting there. Best Starts evaluation framework looks at population level change as well as results for individuals and families directly served by our programs.
To learn more, please visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/BSKIndicators.
Some RFPs may name specific indicators it aims to address. We encourage you to incorporate those indicators you will address in your proposal. County staff will also share the appropriate indicators at RFP bidders’ conferences. Most RFPs offer a recorded webinar bidders’ conference in case you are unable to attend one in person. We value all kinds of data, from numbers to stories. If you think your work will address an indicator we did not mention, we want to know that too!
Once grantees have been identified and contracts have been developed, program staff and the evaluation team will collaborate with grantees to decide on performance measures and an evaluation plan appropriate for their funded activities and time frame. You may be able to utilize data you are already reporting on.
No. Grantees will not be held accountable for changing headline or secondary indicators for the entire population in King County. However, some indicators may also be used as performance measures (e.g., early and adequate prenatal care) and if appropriate, an awardee may be held accountable for meeting standards among the population they are directly serving.
There will be Best Starts evaluation staff present at each bidders’ conference to answer questions. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the contracted Best Starts providers for technical assistance.
We ask that applicants think about how to dedicate up to 10% of your budget towards staff time or costs needed for evaluation activities. We want to partner to collect useful data and understand what it all means, and we know this takes resources. For example: developing the evaluation plan in collaboration with King County, entering needed data, reporting progress quarterly, and potentially participating in peer learning and continuous quality improvement activities.
If applicants feel that software for data collection is essential to meeting their goals, the organization may include this in the budget. However, please ensure that there are adequate funds for implementing selected strategies and meeting program deliverables. There is no expectation for grantees to purchase a data/case management system to help with reporting unless otherwise specified in the RFP.
It is important to express an interest and commitment to participating in Best Starts data collection and evaluation activities. However, having the eagerness to participate in a rigorous evaluation does not increase your chances as varying levels of capacity by organizations will be considered.
Yes. After funding decisions are made, capacity building supports are available if needed. This could take the form of one-on-one support from a member of our evaluation team and/or participation in regular peer learning with other grantees and King County staff. We are committed to working with grantees to build capacity to collect evaluation data and to use data for program quality improvement.
Data reporting methods will vary depending on the type of program. In general, programs will regularly report data and other information to King County related to the following performance measurement areas:
- How much did we do? (outputs)
- How well did we do it? (quality)
- Is anyone better off? (results)
We recognize that the work of each grantee will be impacted by external factors outside of Best Starts. By having regular communication between the grantee and the program manager, the role of these external factors will be considered. We will also collect qualitative data to provide context for quantitative data. Finally, we are tracking other initiatives or policies being implemented that could catalyze or hinder the work of Best Starts.
The evaluation framework examines both population level indicators as well as performance measures. By looking at population level indicators, we can see what is happening for King County as a whole. Many of these population level indicators are aligned with complimentary initiatives happening in King County and Washington State. A key factor of collective impact is using shared measures across initiatives to focus work on key results. We will monitor what other initiatives are happening simultaneously with Best Starts so that we can interpret changes in measures appropriately.
This is something that has been considered from many angles, and has not been determined feasible or the highest priority for Best Starts evaluation funds. Due to the complexity of this initiative, and concerns about privacy and equity, the type of data collection required for a research study of this nature would present too many barriers to vulnerable families and grantees.
While we do have Healthy Youth Survey data by school district, under the terms of our data sharing agreement we are not able to release data by school district without the written permission of the school district. The Best Starts Indicators Website (www.kingcounty.gov/bskindicators) shows data by Region; we work with Seattle Public Schools annually to obtain permission to release the data. For 7 King County school districts, we have worked in partnership to release school district health profiles, available online at: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/data/school-district-health-profiles.aspx
Yes, our intention is to reach the entire county and we are doing our best to include rural and unincorporated areas.
We conduct outreach a number of different ways. Most of our recent efforts focused on community events, including county-hosted events, town hall meetings and presentations at industry-related events and meetings. We communicate our message not only in person, but also via email newsletters, social media, and printed marketing materials.
We have focused on sharing how to apply for Best Starts funding opportunities in 2017. We are grateful for community members and partners all across King County who help spread the word about Best Starts funding opportunities.
Follow us on our blog at www.beststartsblog.com to stay up to date on all Best Starts news, opportunities and events!
No, Best Starts funds programs that serve age populations prenatal to 24.