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Request for Proposals

Smart Start of New Hanover County

Smart Start of New Hanover County (SSNHC), a private, nonprofit agency, is the designated Local Partnership for Children authorized to administer and oversee the use of state Smart Start funding. All Smart Start activities focus on building capacity within the community to provide the services and support necessary to assure that all young children (prenatal to five) have what they need to be prepared for success.

All proposals must be approved locally and meet all of the following to be considered for funding:

  • Include only evidence-based and/or evidenced informed activities/models.
  • Include only North Carolina Partnership for Children (NCPC) approved activities/programs.
  • Align with SSNHC’s strategic objectives for the funding cycle.
  • Incorporate SSNHC & NCPC required measures and tools for data collection/reporting.
  • Funds must only be used to support services for young children (prenatal to 5) and their families in New Hanover County.
  • Meet additional requirements referenced in this document.

Before beginning the proposal process, all potential applicants are encouraged to review the list of approved activities and seek clarification regarding proposed programming.

Smart Start Core Services: Smart Start legislation mandates how each Local Partnership’s allocation is spent on specific evidence-based and/or evidence-informed services.

  • At least 70% of Smart Start funds are used to improve the quality of child care and/or make child care more affordable and accessible for working families; a percentage of which must be spent on child care subsidies.
  • Up to 30% of funds may be spent on improving children’s health, family support, and/or system support services such as outreach, monitoring, and evaluation.

Applications for up to three years of services (FY25, FY26 & FY27) are sought from qualified bidders to provide effective strategies, incorporating the use of approvable evidence-based and/or evidence-informed programming. Approved activities must submit a Continuation of Funding application which includes an annual budget renewal and review process to be eligible for FY26 and FY 27 funding. Proposed programs must address at least one of the following areas:

Child Care Availability

  • System-wide availability of, access to, and use of high-quality, affordable child care.

Child Care Quality

  • Assistance with maintaining and/or improving quality in 4 and 5 star-licensed facilities.
  • Increase star-rated licensure and quality of 1, 2, and 3 star-licensed facilities.
  • Assistance with maintaining and/or improving quality in program practices, teacher child relationships, and other quality indicators.

Early Childhood Educator Professional Development

  • System-wide support services for early care and education professionals, including but not limited to education and training to meet licensure requirements, health and wellness goals, turnover prevention, and targeted technical assistance and/or coaching to promote positive physical health, social-emotional development, infant/early childhood mental health, language, and cognitive skills in young children and enhancing teacher-child relationships.
  • Support for and access to the range of North Carolina education pathways for early care and education professionals working in star-licensed child care facilities.
  • Early intervention and inclusion support for young children with/or at risk for special needs in child care and/or risk for expulsion.

 Early Literacy

  • Support for early literacy development within child care and families of young children.

Family Strengthening

  • Parent nurturing skills across diverse populations to enhance knowledge of child development, increase confidence, promote positive interactions, prevent child abuse and neglect, and build peer and resource connections.

Evaluation criteria may include the following: evidence of effectiveness; proposed annual and long-term outcomes, knowledge/experience with model fidelity or other programmatic guidelines; complete and succinct proposal components; scope and feasibility of project; relevant organization and staff experience/expertise; substantiation of need; alignment with SSNHC’s strategic objectives; and cost effectiveness. All proposals must also meet state level guidelines.

All funding is based on the appropriation of funds to Smart Start by the North Carolina General Assembly and the prioritization of services to best meet local needs, and state and local performance goals. All funding will be reviewed annually.

Application: Prospective applicants must contact Smart Start of New Hanover County no later than 12 pm February 1, 2024, to request a packet. Application and supporting documents will be emailed to interested parties within 1-2 business days after their request has been received. Please email or call 910-815-3731 x1006 with any questions or to request an application.

Completed proposals are due by 5 pm February 15, 2024. Late, faxed, or emailed-only applications will not be reviewed. Additional instructions are included in the application packet.

Bidder Meetings: Two bidder’s meetings will be held in January. Although it is not mandatory, applicants are encouraged to attend one. The purpose of each meeting will be to answer bidder questions related to the application and funding process.

Wednesday, January 10th  from 2:30-3:30 pm via Zoom. Please RSVP by 5pm Jan 8th.

Tuesday, January 16th from 1pm – 2pm via Zoom. Please RSVP by 5pm Jan 12th.

To RSVP: Please email your name, organization, and preferred date to A Zoom link will be forwarded to you. Additional dates may be offered if necessary.