Is a Pay for Success Feasibility Study Right for You? (Institute for Child Success)

In August, the U.S. Department of Education announced $2.8 million in available funding for a Preschool Pay For Success (PFS) Feasibility Pilot program. These grants will fund feasibility studies for early education Pay for Success projects. State, local, and tribal governments are eligible to apply, with letters of intent due by September 12 and applications due by October 6.

The Institute for Child Success is thrilled by this new opportunity to explore financing for high-quality preschool programs.  As a grantee of the Social Innovation Fund, we have worked in partnership with jurisdictions across the country to conduct several feasibility studies on using PFS to expand preschool, home-visiting, and child welfare programs; we will be releasing the results of our first group of studies the week of September 12. ICS also conducted the feasibility study that led to the South Carolina Nurse-Family Partnership Pay for Success Project, announced earlier this year. 

But what is a Pay for Success feasibility study, and why should you consider whether the Department of Education opportunity is right for your jurisdiction? A feasibility study is exactly that – a formal exploration of whether the PFS method of financing may be a good fit for your jurisdiction to fund an expansion of its existing preschool program. It is not a commitment to pursue PFS financing.

ICS uses a multi-step process to explore feasibility (more details are available in this memo). Those steps include:

  • Assessing your preschool program and determining what outcomes it achieves
  • Assessing the capacity of preschool service providers to serve more children
  • Developing a viable expansion plan and determining how much it will cost
  • Projecting the impact of the expansion on outcomes in your community
  • Conducting a cost-benefit analysis
  • Determining feasible PFS contract terms and financing structures

You can get a preview of the process by exploring the templates we have released as part of our Social Innovation Fund work.

The study culminates in a recommendation about whether PFS is a good fit at this time. While feasibility studies are a crucial starting point for a PFS transaction, they can also be useful even if the eventual recommendation does not support a PFS transaction. The process of conducting the study provides information about the outcomes of a specific program, assesses data needs, and considers the costs, benefits and practicalities of expanding the program. This information can help a jurisdiction assess its needs and map the future. If the goals of this project align with your current needs and interests, learn more and consider an application.

ICS welcomes the opportunity to discuss our experience in assisting governments exploring PFS to improve outcomes for young children with you and we are open to exploring partnerships with eligible entities interested in applying.

To discuss opportunities further please contact Megan Golden or Joe Waters.