Request for Proposal

System of Care for Children ages 0-5 with Special Health Care Needs in Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg Partnership for Children
November 4, 2019

I. Purpose of RFP

To map the services and needs for children ages 0-5 in Mecklenburg County with special health care needs (CSHCN) as defined by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau as “those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic, physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally. “Timeline and Contract Period

II. Timeline and Contract Period

Anticipated Timeline for RFP Award



Issue RFP

 November 4, 2019

Deadline to submit additional RFP questions and clarifications.

 November 13, 2019

Anticipated date of response to vendor questions.

 November 20, 2019

Proposal deadline

5:00 pm EST, December 4, 2019

Internal Review of proposals

December 4 – 10, 2019

RFP award announcement

December 11, 2019


The term of any contract resulting from this RFP shall start on or about December 11, 2019 (or from the date the contract is executed) and shall expire on or about June 30, 2020 unless terminated earlier OR extended beyond that date consistent with the terms of the contract.

SSMC reserves the right to alter or update this schedule, but will make every effort to adhere to it.

III. Background and Scope of Work

A. Introduction to Smart Start

North Carolina’s Smart Start Legislation directs local, county partnerships across the state to “ensure all children have access to high-quality early childhood education and development services.” Founded in 1993, Mecklenburg Partnership for Children, or Smart Start of Mecklenburg County (SSMC), is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. SSMC administers approximately $29 million annually in state, county and private funds to programs that serve children birth to age five, their families and caregivers in Mecklenburg County. Locally, Smart Start of Mecklenburg County funds programs and supports systems in four broad categories: early care and education, health, kindergarten entrance assessment and family support. The impact of this funding and system-level support is measured in our Community Early Childhood Profile (EC Profile), which includes county-level indicators for which the local partnerships are held accountable. In addition to four directly managed in-house programs, SSMC partners with 13 local agencies to fund 20 programs.

Vision: Children in Charlotte/Mecklenburg enter kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed.

Mission: Smart Start of Mecklenburg County mobilizes resources, forges partnerships, and supports families to improve early childhood health, education and development and ensure children are prepared for kindergarten.

IV. Scope of Work

A. Overview

It is well accepted that providing early screening and services to children with special health needs (CSHCN) is critical to their long-term growth and well-being. The purpose of this Request for Proposal is to retain a researcher to conduct a countywide needs assessment of all available services for CSHCN ages 0-5. Smart Start is invested in learning about the system of care available to families and children who are experiencing needs and challenges outside the widely accepted developmental milestones. Smart Start endeavors to use the results of this needs assessment to work in our community to convene, support and invest in strategies designed to improve outcomes for these families. Projected budget range for this project is $30,000 – $35,000.

The broadly accepted definition of interventions for CSHCN originates from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. In North Carolina, early intervention, is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), as ”a system of services designed to support families with children ages birth to kindergarten who have, or are at risk for, disabilities.”  Beyond the defined services provided through IDEA (County-based early intervention and educational services), there exists a system of providers (early childhood special educators, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, mental health providers and health professionals) working with families to continue to build on a child’s strengths and provide services to support the child and family. By examining the scope of services beyond the IDEA level of service, we encounter a larger support network. A child’s natural environment is where they live, learn, and play. Child care facilities, community organizations, libraries, and playgroups are just some of the wider net of support systems that families access on a daily basis. Smart Start recognizes the system of care, public and private, for this population extends beyond what is available beyond the early intervention services, provided by the IDEA.

B. Tasks

The vendor will be responsible for researching and writing a fully completed comprehensive needs assessment of Mecklenburg County’s system of care for CSHCN ages 0-5. The needs assessment identifies both strengths and needs to make recommendations and provide guidance on how to improve outcomes, including policy recommendations.

In producing the needs assessment, the vendor is to engage a strong stakeholder base including parents, members of the Local Interagency Coordinating Council, and others by gathering and analyzing surveys and other stakeholder input. The vendor is expected to work with SSMC to engage stakeholders in reviewing, analyzing and interpreting the data collected. The vendor will work closely with and will be assisted by SSMC’s Director of Planning and Evaluation.

As guidance, the needs assessment should address:

  1. Prevalence data for this population, reflecting national, state and local estimates.
  2. Clarify the varying definitions of eligibility and how this relates to available services. The definitions of eligibility sometimes can vary, depending on the funding mechanism – public funds, private insurance, and private pay.
  3. Catalog programs and services for this population.
  4. Current, unduplicated number of children being served in existing programs and the unduplicated number of children (if any) awaiting service.
  5. Describe the populations of children who may be vulnerable or
  6. Identify how families access services and utilization rates. Not all families access traditional care and we want to learn more about their needs.
  7. Describe transition supports and gaps, if any, between all infant-toddler services and preschool services, including but not limited to Part C and Part B.
  8. Identify the quality and availability of services and supports, considering the needs of working families, as well as those who are seeking employment or in job
  9. Include an analysis of funding streams, including barriers to funding and the provision of high-quality
  10. Overlay findings with best practices research.

 C. Deliverables

  1. A full action-oriented report/needs assessment.
  2. An easy-to-read executive summary written for public
  3. A visual overview of services and programs using graphics and
  4. Materials for public presentations explaining the needs assessment process, findings and
  5. Additional communication deliverables may be identified during the needs assessment process in consultation with the vendor and


RFP awarded

 December 11, 2019

Status report

 April 30, 2020

First draft ready for review (project extension, if needed, considered at this time)

 June 1, 2020

Final draft, executive summary ready for review

 June 15, 2020

Drafts of presentation materials, data dashboard, etc. ready for review

 June 22, 2020

Final needs assessment completed and delivered

 June 30, 2020


V. Proposal Requirements and Terms

A. General Requirements

Vendors must submit a complete proposal in response to this RFP. In the case of hard copies, one (1) original and two (2) copies of the proposal must be submitted to SSMC in a sealed envelope or package. All pages of the proposal should be numbered. The proposal should not exceed 20 pages including budget.

Email submission of electronic copies of the proposal sent to is acceptable and is the preferred method of submission. Vendors may submit no more than one (1) proposal in response to this RFP and it must be signed by an authorized representative of the vendor.

B. Content Requirements

The core proposal must include:

  1. Introduction of vendor summarizing the company’s background, resources and relevant
  2. Summary of examples of past projects, preferably of a similar size and
  3. References from at least three (3) past projects.
  4. Work plan outlining key required components of the needs assessment including a proposed schedule for the project with project stages, milestones and
  5. Design and layout description including proposed visual content (charts, graphs, graphics, etc.) and tools and technology planned to be used to produce the visual representations.
  6. Proposed budget for the project. Budget should include the proposed work plan with a breakdown of fees for professional services, hours and administrative
  7. A list of personnel on the project team and any possible sub-contractors and consultants. Please include biographical information and their roles. Identify the project leader as the main point of contact and provide name, title, phone and email address.

C. Terms 

  • Ownership of all data, materials, and documentation originated and prepared for this RFP shall belong exclusively to
  • Any amendment will require signatures by authorized representatives at
  • No other distribution of the proposals may be made by the vendor without
  • The term “vendor” in this document refers to a respondent to this RFP.

VI. Evaluation Criteria and Terms

A. Criteria

All proposals will be reviewed for compliance by a team of staff and volunteers to determine if they adhere to the format and instructions of the RFP, meet the criteria indicated below, and conform to the objectives and requirements of the RFP.


Evaluation Criteria



Background and experience with needs assessments

Demonstrated experience performing needs assessments in large systems

References from previous clients that similar work has been completed successfully

Demonstrated experience working on document production within collaborative structures

References and similar feedback

Experience working in North Carolina or Mecklenburg County



Writing and project samples



High quality document development and publishing experience

Example layouts and information presentation

Example infographic or design elements used




Data collection, analysis and presentation

Demonstrated ability to analyze and present large quantities of data from many sources

Ability to collaborate to develop a web-based data sharing platform



Reasonable financial outline and budget

Development of a cost-effective budget


 B. Terms


Eligible applicants include public or private organizations with documented and demonstrated ability to provide services as described in this RFP.

Incompleteness, significant inconsistences or inaccuracies found within in any section may result in a reduction of the evaluation rating. Any deviation from the requirements can result in a in a reduction or a disqualification for review.

SSMC reserves the right to reject any or all proposals; request clarifications from any or all vendors; and accept any portion of a proposal or all items proposed if deemed to be in the best interest of SSMC. It also reserves the right to interview any potential vendor prior to making an award. Reviewers may use other sources of information to perform the evaluation.

Point of contact

The sole point of contact RFP is: Jennifer Stamp, Director of Planning & Evaluation,

This RFP is subject to change and SSMC may modify this RFP at any time. Modifications will be posted on the SSMC website with a (web link available). This is the only method by which the RFP will be modified.

Contract Compliance

SSMC staff will coordinate with vendor to monitor progress on the needs assessment. Should contract non-compliance be determined, the contract may be terminated or amended.

VII. Award of Contract

The award for this contract will be made to the highest-ranked vendor considered responsive and responsible, and the most advantageous one to SSMC with respect to the technical and pricing factors combined together. In the event a contract cannot be negotiated with the highest-ranked vendor, SSMC may enter into negotiations with the second highest-ranked vendor and/or may decide to call for new proposals.