By Megan Carolan and Mary Garvey
Last week, ICS hosted its Second Annual Conference of the Early Childhood Social Impact Performance Advisors, co-hosted with our partners at ReadyNation. A jam-packed two-and-a-half days in San Diego brought together over 200 representatives of more than 30 jurisdictions as well as researchers, business partners, and experts in Pay for Success (PFS) transactions. The conference was our first major event since announcing our five Pay for Success early childhood subgrantees, and included a significant focus on the nuts and bolts of pay for success transactions, balanced by a system-wide look at the possible role for PFS in the wide world of early childhood.
Some major takeaways from the conference:
1) Communications: From high level conversations with legislators to making sure providers know what to expect, clear frequent communication helps.
2) Impact Investors: The importance of balancing investing expectations — social, financial, as well as benefits that are difficult to monetize — cannot be overstated. Impact investors seek both social and financial returns, but to different degrees; when seeking out investors, tailor your messaging accordingly.
3) Innovation: PFS offers an alternate route where traditional government intervention is politically not feasible.
4) Fidelity & Integrity: It is important to have the right data AND to use it well. Using a third party to evaluate protects program integrity, and safeguards against disincentives. A promising practice is to create a wall of sorts between providers and the financing model/data systems.
5) Partnerships: Beyond formal contracts and partnerships, there is value in talking informally with one another. Jurisdictions exploring PFS need to talk to each other to bounce ideas off of each other regarding common struggles and troubleshoot problems. Also, reach out to other jurisdictions who may be at different points in their PFS process; there are always learnings that can be shared.
While we talk a lot about our technical assistance subgrantees, the conference was a powerful reminder that the work being done in this field truly traverses the nation. The map below showcases not only our PFS recipients, but early childhood grantees served by other grantees, those who applied for either TA or conference participation, and current completed transactions in the country. Interested jurisdictions include small cities, counties, and large states, from coast to coast and in between. Interested jurisdictions include small cities, counties, and large states, from coast to coast and in between.
In addition to discussing past and current projects, the conference included two exciting announcements of upcoming PFS opportunities:
- Mayor Ben McAdams of Salt Lake County, Utah announced that the county has opened a new Request for Proposals for a PFS project focused on maternal and child health outcomes; details are available on their website. Bidding ends May 27.
- The Policy Innovation Lab at the University of Utah is taking applications to provide technical assistance to providers who are able to serve in several policy and geographic areas. Applications are due June 17. The areas are:
- recidivism and homelessness in Boise, Idaho;
- early childhood education in Adams County School District 50, Colorado;
- homelessness and recidivism in Colorado;
- recidivism in Missoula, Montana;
- early childhood education in Las Vegas, Nevada; and
- recidivism in Utah.
PFS is not a one-size-fits-all approach – it requires a specific consideration of each jurisdictions assets, goals, and barriers. But the widespread interest in this mechanism does show us that jurisdiction are eager to explore new funding approaches for programs they know work. We are looking forward to building on this momentum and exploring what PFS can do for the early childhood world.