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Here’s how Reinvestment Fund supports high-quality childcare

Supporting childcare. January 19, 2016 Category: FeaturedMethod
Think of Reinvestment Fund as a bank. Except, the two-decade-old institution is a nonprofit that lends with a mission. And while it doesn’t fund programming directly, it does find ways to support it.

Since its establishment in 1985, Reinvestment Fund has lent over $350 million in facility financing to K-12 education and $20 million to early childhood education, creating 40,000 and serving nearly 20,000 children. The Fund primarily deals in facility funding, but those loans rely heavily on the quality of service the organization is offering.

“We want to make sure [loan applicants] are offering a quality service. Is it improving the neighborhood? Everybody deserves a really nice building to go into,” said Bevin Parker-Cerkez, director of early childhood education lending at Reinvestment Fund.

“Improving the lives of children who go in there is potentially improving the neighborhood itself.”

In that way, Reinvestment Fund is supporting quality programming, albeit indirectly. The Fund for Quality is a more direct channel for funding high-quality childcare.

Now two years old, the nearly $5 million fund is seeded by the William Penn Foundation and operated by Reinvestment Fund in partnership with Public Health Management Corporation. It’s aimed at targeting those high-quality childcare providers and helping them expand their services to low-income populations with grants and development consulting.

“It was on the heels of some data work our policy folks and policy map did around Childcare Map, which was looking at the supply and demand gaps of childcare availability in Philadelphia,” Parker-Cerkez said.

Using the map, Fund for Quality was able to pinpoint low-income neighborhoods where high quality childcare is thin or altogether absent. Over the past two years, it has been awarded grants to 17 early childhood education providers and supported them in their expansion into those neighborhoods as well as creating nearly 650 seats.

“We sat down with the providers and said, ‘What do you need to support your expansion? Not only do we want you to expand, but we want you to sustainably operate year after year, and then be able to think about further expansion beyond this,'” Parker-Cerkez said.

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The Fund for Quality offered varied support — updated strategic plans, professional development, business consulting, the works. It was another way for Reinvestment Fund to provide mission-aligned support for quality programming through facility funding.

“We had the ability to grant funds to that. Providers did not pay a dollar for it,” Parker-Cerkez said. “We made recommendations along the way, but we supported from a monetary and information perspective as much as possible.”

Parker-Cerkez said the Fund for Quality is in the process of looking for more money to launch another round with the prospect of “potentially replicating [the work] in other areas.”

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