All Our Kids Early Childhood Networks (23-444-84-1251)

Summary Information

Awarding Agency Name Illinois Department of Human Services
Awarding Division Name Early Childhood
Agency Contact Ana Maria Accove, anamaria.accove@illinois.gov
Announcement Type Initial Announcement
Funding Opportunity Title All Our Kids Early Childhood Networks Initiative
Funding Opportunity Number 23-444-84-1251-01
Application Posting Date February 15, 2022
Application Closing Date April 15, 2022
Catalog of State Financial Assistance (CSFA) Number 444-84-1251
Catalog of State Financial Assistance (CSFA) Popular Name AOK Networks
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s) Not Applicable
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)
Award Funding Source State and Federal
Estimated Total Program Funding $1,980,000
Anticipated Number of Awards 12
Award Range These ranges account for the variance in the required Salary Floor:
  • For Cook and Collar Counties: $130,000 Minimum - $180,000 Maximum award
  • For Downstate Communities: $100,000 Minimum - $150,000 Maximum award
Cost Sharing or Matching Requirement No
Indirect Costs Allowed Yes
Restrictions on Indirect Costs No
Technical Assistance Session

TA Conference Date: Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 1:00 - 2:00 PM

Register in advance for this meeting: Registration link

Here are the links to the TA Session recording and the slides provided during the TA Session.

A. Program Description

1. Program Summary

In order for children to get the best start in life, families need strong communities where everyone is working together toward common goals for young children. The All Our Kids Early Childhood Networks initiative (AOK Networks) was launched in 1999 to support collaboration across service sectors to improve outcomes for babies, young children, and their families/caregivers. AOK Network partners engage in cross-sector, strategic, system-focused initiatives so that more babies are born healthy, more children are safe, healthy, and developing positively, and more children enter school ready to learn. AOK Networks improve child and family outcomes by creating a more accessible, coordinated, equitable and just system of services and supports that also engages parents/caregivers as partners in making the system work for them.

The overall goal of the AOK Networks is to ensure locally that babies are born healthy, children are safe, healthy, and developing positively, and enter school ready to learn. AOK Networks consist of an AOK Network Coordinator, Family Engagement Specialist and a wide range of stakeholders representing health, mental health, early learning, human services, family support, faith-based organizations, families, and other community champions.

This initiative is a collaborative effort between the Illinois Department of Human Services' Division of Early Childhood's Bureau of Collaboration and Partnership, Bureau of Home Visiting, and Child Care and Development; the Division of Family and Community Services, Maternal and Child Health Services; the Illinois State Board of Education; local health departments; and local agencies serving pregnant women, children birth to five and their parent/caregivers. It is the most comprehensive, long-standing, community-based systems development initiative in the State of Illinois.

Terms and Definitions

To assist Applicants with understanding the terminology found in this Notice of Funding Opportunity, definitions for commonly used terms are provided below.

  • Capacity-building: Improving the ability of community stakeholders to come together, learn, make well-reasoned decisions about the community's present and future outcomes. It includes the Network's competence and perseverance to carry out its work proactively and in response to changes locally and beyond through collaboration, adaptation, and self-renewal. Core areas of AOK Network capacity-building include developing a shared agenda, promoting collaborative leadership and engagement, fostering continuous learning and adaptive action, and strengthening Network function and structure.
  • Centralized Referral System (CRS): A web-based, bi-directional referral system used to connect families to a wide array of family services and supports that promotes screening and individualized family assessments to identify a client's needs and generate referrals to programs and services that are the best fit for the family.
  • Child and Family Outcome Initiative: Through a community assessment process using the AOK Networks Developmental Pathway, each community prioritizes a set of related child and family outcomes which become the focus of this initiative. In addition, through a system assessment and root cause analysis, AOK Networks seek to understand the ways in which the system could be improved to better support children and families to reach these outcomes. Together AOK Network partners address barriers too big to address individually, seek to permanently improve the system, and to benefit more children and families.
  • Collaboration: The act of working together towards one or more mutually agreed upon goal(s).
  • Collaborative: A group of community stakeholders who work together towards a shared agenda or set of goals. AOK Networks are collaboratives made up of cross-sector partners who seek to improve outcomes for expecting parents, babies, young children, and families/caregivers through a systems approach.
  • Community Systems Development: A process by which a community takes collective responsibility for the young children in their community by working together as a whole system to ensure all young children reach important outcomes across domains of health, safety, positive development, and kindergarten readiness.
  • Continuous Learning and Adaptive Action: Engaging in an ongoing process of learning what works and what does not, then adapting plans and actions for greater impact. The process includes iterative cycles of Planning, Implementing, Learning, and Adapting (PILA).
  • Early Childhood (EC): the life stages and developmental milestones associated with the period from birth to age five; AOK Networks include prenatal development in their early childhood efforts.
  • Early Childhood System: A coordinated effort among many sectors and community agencies who work together to improve outcomes for expecting families, babies, young children, and their families/caregivers through a system improvement approach. Sectors, services, programs, and supports that make up the early childhood system include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Health and Mental Health: Breastfeeding support, Family Case Management/Better Birth Outcomes, mental health counseling, prenatal health care, well-child visits, immunizations, and WIC.
  • Early Learning Experiences: Home visiting; family, friend, and neighbor care; family childcare homes; center- and school-based early education services; early intervention in natural environments; and special education services.
  • Family Support and Engagement: Food pantries, foster care, Intact Family Services, housing/shelter, substance abuse, TANF, violence prevention and workforce development.
  • Family Engagement: There is a continuum of family engagement in the context of community systems development. In this continuum, families may be ignored, viewed as service recipients, utilized as consultants, or fully engaged as change agents. At the highest level of engagement, as change agents, families are empowered to not only engage in discussions and decision-making, but also to actively take part in implementing actions.
  • Human Centered Design: a process of engaging people who are experiencing a problem in solving the problem; AOK Networks engage parents/caregivers in their system improvement efforts.
  • Information and Referral Initiative: Each five-year cycle, all AOK Networks work on one of the system building components. Currently, AOK Networks are focused on information and referral. Following a structured process, AOK Networks systematically learn about the current I&R practices in their community, engage stakeholders in building a more connected and coordinated system to connect families to the right services, make referrals through a web-based platform, continually improve the process over time, and track outcomes.
  • Measurable: Capable of being measured; data indicators are established to measure progress toward a specific goal. To determine if a goal is measurable, ask questions such as: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?
  • Network Capacity Initiative: Network capacity refers to the knowledge, skill, and ability of the Network to work together and improve the service delivery system. It also refers to formalizing and strengthening the collaborative infrastructures and processes. AOK Networks focus on four core areas: Share Agenda, Collaborative Leadership and Engagement, Continuous Learning and Adaptive Action, and Network Governance. Network capacity initiatives are informed by assessments such as the Wilder Survey and the Illinois CSD Benchmark tool. Sometimes Network Initiatives include approaches related to one or both of their other initiatives.
  • Parent Ambassador: Are dedicated parents helping to foster a sense of community among parents, are advocates for and a resource for families with young children. Parent Ambassadors actively participate in community outreach activities; focus on parent engagement; provide parent to parent support; and offer education and information on relevant topics including, but not limited to child development, parent and family life, and early childhood development and education programs and services.
  • Partnership Agreement or MOU: A written agreement between two or more entities to carry out specific objectives in order to create better outcomes for children and families. The signed entities are expected to work together throughout the agreement period to ensure that shared child and family outcomes are achieved.
  • Shared Agenda: Having a shared understanding of the AOK Networks' system improvement mission and framework as well as a shared investment in the Network's local, cross-sector goals and initiatives that support that mission.
  • System: A system is any group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent parts that form a complex unified whole that has a specific purpose.
  • System Building: the ongoing process of developing the structures, behaviors, and connections that make all the components of a system operate as a whole.
  • System Change: an intentional process that alters the status quo of the system by shifting and aligning system parts and their interactions… leading to new system habits and patterns.
  • System Improvement: The ongoing process of increasing the capacity and effectiveness of the local early childhood system to function as a whole in order to improve system access, coordination, and equity in ways that synergistically improve outcomes for children and families. Through system building and system change approaches, AOK Networks seek to improve the early childhood system's function, alignment, and habits. AOK Networks use four approaches to improve the early childhood system: human-centered design, system change, system building, and continuous improvement and adaptive action.
  • List of commonly used early childhood referenced: acronyms

2. Funding Priorities or Focus Areas

  1. Communities with an established AOK Network
  2. At-Risk Communities in the 2020 MIECHV Needs Assessment with current MIECHV funding.
  3. At-Risk Communities in the 2020 MIECHV Needs Assessment with a current PDG B-5 IRIS Project.

See list of eligible communities in Section B.1 Community Eligibility and Funding Requirements

3. Authorizing Statutes or Regulations

Objective of CFDA# 93.994, Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant to the States, To enable States to maintain and strengthen their leadership in planning, promoting, coordinating and evaluating health care for pregnant women, mothers, infants, and children, children with special health care needs (CSHCN) and families in providing health services for maternal and child health populations who do not have access to adequate health care. States may use funds to develop systems of care for the provision of health services and related activities, including planning, administration, education and evaluation consistent with the State's annual application. Funds may not be used for (1) Inpatient services other than those provided to children with special health care needs or to high-risk pregnant women and infants and such other inpatient services as the Secretary may approve; (2) cash payments to intended recipients for health services; (3) purchase and improvement of land, construction or permanent improvement of buildings or purchase of major medical equipment; (4) matching other Federal grants; or (5) providing funds for research or training to any entity other than a public or private nonprofit entity. Beginning in FY 1991, States must use at least 30 percent of their Federal allotment for preventive and primary care services for children, and at least 30 percent for services for children with special health care needs. In addition, each State must establish and maintain a toll-free information number for parents on maternal and child health (MCH) and Medicaid providers. No more than 10 percent of each State's allotment may be used for administration.

Objective of CFDA# 93.870, The goals of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV Program) are to: (1) strengthen and improve the programs and activities carried out under Title V of the Social Security Act; (2) improve coordination of services for at-risk communities; and (3) identify and provide comprehensive services to improve outcomes for eligible families who reside in at-risk communities. The MIECHV Program was created to support voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services for at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children up to kindergarten entry. The MIECHV Program builds upon decades of scientific research that shows home visits conducted by a nurse, social worker, early childhood educator, or other trained professional during pregnancy and in the first years of a child's life improves the lives of children and families. Home visiting helps prevent child abuse and neglect, supports positive parenting, improves maternal and child health, and promotes child development and school readiness. The investment provides coordinated and comprehensive high-quality voluntary, evidence-based home visiting services with a national reach. The MIECHV Program plays a crucial role in building high-quality, comprehensive statewide early childhood systems to support pregnant women, parents and caregivers, and children from birth to kindergarten entry and ultimately, to improve health and development outcomes.

Objective of CFDA# 93.596, The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is the primary federal funding source to help certain low-income families access child care and to improve the quality of child care for all children. As a block grant, CCDF gives funding to States, Territories, and Tribes to provide child care subsidies primarily through vouchers or certificates to low-income families. In addition, CCDF funds are used to improve the quality of child care for both subsidized and unsubsidized children. The Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) was created by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-508) and is subject to annual appropriations. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996 (P.L. 104-193) consolidated funding for child care under the Social Security Act, where CCE is authorized, and made such funding generally subject to the requirements of the CCDBG Act. The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-186) reauthorized the discretionary portion of CCDF through FY 2020 and made significant changes to improve the health, safety, and quality of child care and provide more continuous child care assistance to low-income children and families. The Discretionary portion of the CCDF funds provides about $5.2 billion in federal funding per year for child care. Additional funding is provided by state matching and maintenance of effort funds, as well as funds transferred from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

4. Scope of Services

AOK Networks' Grantee Responsibilities

  1. The Grantee will work with the Illinois Department of Human Services (Department) to develop a local, comprehensive early childhood service and support system to meet the needs of pregnant women, children birth to five years old and their parents/caregivers.
  2. The Grantee must hire the following positions according to their respective salary floors:
    1. One (1.0/FTE) full time, highly-qualified, local AOK Networks Coordinator (see salary floor requirements in Section B: Community Eligibility and Funding Requirements) to develop and maintain a community collaborative (the AOK Network) representing parents/caregivers, local agencies/organizations, and community stakeholders with interests and supports for pregnant women and families with young children within the geographically assigned area.
    2. One (1.0/FTE) full time, highly-qualified, local Family Engagement Specialist (see salary floor requirements in Section B: Community Eligibility and Funding Requirements) to assist the local AOK Network Coordinator in developing and maintaining the network with a focus on enhancing the AOK Network's capacity to ensure improvements in authentic family engagement and increasing enrollment in home visiting and other early childhood services.
  3. In addition, grantees may request funding to support up to 8 Parent Ambassadors through an annual stipend of $2000 per ambassador or one part-time (.50/ FTE) administrative assistant. Based on the proposed needs indicated in your proposal, adjustments will be made to the total requested grant amount, not to exceed specified award range.
  4. The Grantee will promote the professional development of and provide support to the local AOK Network Coordinator and the Family Engagement Specialist in any of the following ways:
    1. Attend training together
    2. Respond to funder requests for information
    3. Provide assessment and planning support
    4. Manage the local Coordinator's responsibilities during any leaves of absence or staff transitions
  5. The Grantee will furnish monthly financial reports to the Department and the AOK Networks State Administrator by completing and submitting the Periodic Financial Report (PFR) in alignment with the approved budget by the 15th of the month following the reporting period.
  6. The Grantee will record all efforts completed toward identified objectives in the AOK Connect reporting database on a monthly basis and submit semi-annual Periodic Performance Reports (PPR) to update the Department on the AOK Network's progress. The Grantee will also submit any additional documentation of efforts as request by the State Administrator.
  7. The Grantee will participate in process and outcome evaluation services provided by the designated contractor as determined necessary by the Department.
  8. Grantee on-site supervisors of AOK Networks' local Coordinators will attend an annual AOK Networks update meeting.

 Local AOK Networks Coordinator's Qualifications

The AOK Network Coordinator is charged with leading the local birth to five community through a planning and implementation process to improve the system of services and supports that gives equitable access to high-quality programs for all young children. The grantee should seek to hire a local coordinator that possesses the following qualifications and experiences:

  1. Understanding and familiarity with the various sectors of the birth to five service community (i.e., maternal and child health, early intervention, early care and education, mental health, family supports and prevention services)
  2. Understanding of local community assessment processes
  3. Strategic planning experience
  4. Data collection and analysis experience
  5. Ability to lead in a collaborative environment
  6. Group facilitation skills and experience
  7. Leadership development skills and experience
  8. Understanding of systems development
  9. Network/Collaborative development and management experience
  10. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite
  11. Required: Bachelor's degree with two years of experience in social work, early childhood education, family support, public health, or related field; or, 5 or more years of community systems development knowledge, skills, and experience.

5. Deliverables

Local AOK Networks' Staff Responsibilities

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following activities:

  1. Establish and maintain a community collaborative (the AOK Network) representing early childhood development sectors and individuals with interests and services for families with young children to work on improving system access, coordination, and equity, as well as engaging parents/caregivers as partners in making the system work for them.
  2. Conduct an early childhood community assessment utilizing primary and secondary data sources to determine community strengths and identify priority child and family outcome issues.
  3. Represent the early childhood sector in the development of the local IPLAN/MAPP to share data and information on early childhood outcomes and related system issues.
  4. Lead the AOK Network to design and implement three cross-sector initiatives focused on:
    • Network Capacity
    • Information and Referral
    • Child or Family Outcome (Communities not currently receiving an AOK Network grant will not be required to implement this initiative in the first year.)
  5. Use these system improvement approaches in the development and implementation of the required initiatives:
    • human-centered design
    • system building strategies,
    • system-change approaches, and
    • continuous learning and adaptive action
  6. As part of the Information and Referral initiative, launch and implement a Centralized Referral System (CRS) using a web-based referral application that supports warm handoffs for families and improves communication among partners by streamlining the referral process, closing the communication loop for referring organizations, and giving communities a clear data driven picture of partner capacity. (Applicants applying for a community that does not have an established web-based referral system will develop a plan to engage local partner buy-in toward launching this initiative in year one of the grant. See Appendix 7, for 1st year anticipated objectives and approaches/strategies.)
  7. Monitor and evaluate progress on strategic plans using continuous learning and adaptive action throughout the five-year planning and implementation cycle.
  8. Conduct assessments to inform AOK Network initiatives including, but not limited to, the Wilder survey, CSD Benchmark tool, parent and provider surveys provided by the Department and submit as indicated.
  9. Engage parents/caregivers as Network partners through participation in Network meetings, parent workgroups, community events, written surveys, parent cafés, and/or public education campaigns.
  10. Participate in all mandatory AOK Networks statewide meetings and trainings: three, two-day meetings in central Illinois (pending COVID restrictions), monthly teleconferences, webinars, and AOK Network-sponsored regional trainings. Participate virtually in quarterly leader labs.
  11. Participate in and promote AOK Networks' lessons learned at the Community Systems Development subcommittee meetings; and participate at state and national conferences as requested by State Administrator.
  12. Attend professional development opportunities recommended by the Department.
  13. Develop and annually update resource directories/cards that inventory local early childhood services (and related services to families with children from birth to five); post directories/cards on the Network's local webpage at AOKNetworks .
  14. Participate in a statewide AOK Network effort to promote children's mental health public awareness by connecting with the National SAMHSA website for resources and conducting local events to address children's mental health issues and/or topics that are specific to the community.
  15. Update semiannually the Network's local webpage on the State AOK Networks' website at AOKNetorks by uploading plans at a glance, local IECAM Assessment map, AOK Infographic, Resource Guide, Partner Agency/Program list and information such as Network accomplishments, community events and resources, AOK meeting minutes, associated resource links and posting meeting dates on the AOK website calendar.

6. Performance Measures

The Grantee must submit semi-annual Periodic Performance Reports (PPR) to update the Department on the following performance measures.

  1. Number of Network meeting held.
  2. Number of sectors participating in the Network and/or in workgroups of the Network.
  3. Number of sectors participating in Centralized Referral System.
  4. Number of Network capacity initiative approaches conducted.
  5. Number of Child/Family Outcome initiative approaches conducted.
  6. Number of Information and Referral initiative approaches conducted.
  7. Number of reports to provide data on referral efforts through the Centralized Referral System.
  8. Number of required Coordinator meetings, IRIS Leader Labs and CSD Subcommittee meetings attended by the Grantee.
  9. Number of approved professional development opportunities completed.
  10. Number of updates to the community resource guide.
  11. Number of workforce development trainings offered and completed.
  12. Number of reports submitted to include the Periodic Financial Reports (PFR) and Periodic Performance Reports (PPR) by the established deadlines by the grantee.

7. Performance Standards

By June 30th and in accordance with the approved plan:

  1. Ten Network meeting were held.
  2. Six sectors participated in the Network and/or Network workgroups.
  3. Six sectors participated in the Centralized Referral System.
  4. 80% of the Network Capacity initiative approaches planned for this fiscal year were conducted.
  5. 80% of the Child/Family Outcome initiative approaches planned for this fiscal year were conducted.
  6. 80% of the Information and Referral initiative approaches planned for this fiscal year were conducted.
  7. 4 Data Dashboard Quarterly Reports demonstrating referral efforts completed through the Centralized Referral System.
  8. 100% of the mandatory AOK Networks statewide meetings and trainings, IRIS Leader Labs and CSD Subcommittee meetings were attended by the Coordinator and Family Engagement Specialist.
  9. One approved professional development training was completed by the local Coordinator and the Family Engagement Specialist.
  10. One update to the community resource guide.
  11. Three workforce development trainings offer and completed.
  12. 100% of required reports were submitted by the established deadline.

8. Department Responsibilities

Throughout the course of this grant period, Department and Program staff, program consultants and process evaluation specialist at the University of Illinois/Champaign Urbana will provide the AOK Networks grantee staff:

  • Training on the AOK Networks Conceptual Framework and Developmental Pathway
  • Professional Development and Training related to AOK Networks efforts
  • Community Assessment and Data Collection and Analysis Training
  • Coaching opportunities
  • Technical Assistance
  • Peer to peer support opportunities
  • AOK Networks Resource Library filled with tools and webinars
  • Access to IRIS, an Information and Referral Intake System, at no cost to the community
    • IRIS training and coaching provided by the University of Kansas
  • Other supports as identified to build Network Capacity

The Department will provide technical assistance and monitoring for all programs operated under the Division of Early Childhood.

B. Funding Information

  • This is a competitive funding opportunity.
  • The release of this NOFO does not obligate the Illinois Department of Human Services to make an award.
  • The source of funding for this program is State General and Federal funds.
  • The Department anticipates the availability of approximately $1,980,000 (total funding for NOFO)  to fund 12 grant awards to provide this program. It is anticipated that grant awards will range from $150,000 to $180,000.
  • Subject to appropriation, the grant period will begin no sooner than July 1, 2022 and will continue through June 30, 2023.
  • Applications for renewal or supplementation of existing projects are eligible to compete with applications for new State awards.
  • Successful applicants under this NOFO may be eligible to receive two subsequent one-year grant renewals for this program. Renewals are at the discretion of the Department and are based on sufficient appropriation and performance meeting various criteria including, but not limited to, the following considerations: 
    • Grantee has performed satisfactorily during the previous reporting period of the previous grant period;
    • All required reports have been submitted on time, unless a written exception has been provided by the Division/Department;
    • No outstanding issues are present (i.e. in good standing with all pre-qualification requirements and no outstanding corrective action, etc.)
  • Proposed budgets must be sufficiently detailed and justified to be approved by IDHS. Successful applicants will NOT receive a grant agreement until after their budget has been approved through the Community Service Agreement tracking system (CSA) system.
  • Subcontractor Agreement(s) and budgets must be pre-approved by the Department and on file with the Department. Subcontractors are subject to all provisions of this Agreement. The successful applicant Agency shall retain sole responsibility for the performance and monitoring of the subcontractor.
  • It is expected that administrative costs, both direct and indirect, will represent a small portion of the overall program budget.

Community Eligibility and Funding Requirements

This grant requires a minimum salary for the AOK Network Coordinator and Family Engagement Specialist. In order to account for regional variations in cost, with particular attention to deviations in salary associated with higher costs of living in the Greater Chicago area, the salary floors reflect associated cost for 1) Cook and collar counties, and 2) Downstate Illinois. The decision to regionalize costs in this manner was driven by a desire to fit the cost model to the broader early childhood cost model being constructed for the PDG B-5.

  • If there are barriers to meeting the salary floor, indicate accommodations that may be needed to meet the minimum required salary. Submit a plan for how salaries will be increased by year two of this three year continuing grant as Attachment A, Plan to Meeting the Salary Floor. Salaries that do not meet the salary floor will affect the amount of the approved grant in the first year.

List of Eligible Communities with Salary Requirements:

Cook and Collar Counties Chicago South Side, Chicago West Side, Chicago Southeast Side, Cicero, DuPage, Kane, Lake, Will Downstate Counties Other counties not included in Cook/Collar Counties: Adams, Kankakee, Macon, McLean, Rock Island, Sangamon, St. Clair, Stephenson/Carroll/Jo Daviess, Tazewell/Peoria/Woodford, Vermillion, Wabash/Edwards, Winnebago
Salary (Floor) Minimum    Target Salary  Salary (Floor) Minimum Target Salary 
AOK Network Coordinator $60,000 $65,000 $50,000 $55,000
Family Engagement Specialist $46,800 $52,000 $37,800 $42,000

1. Communities eligible in Chicago must consist of at least 3 of the listed neighborhoods.

  • Chicago Southeast Side
    • East Side
    • Hegewisch
    • Pullman
    • Roseland
    • Riverdale
    • South Deering
    • West Pullman
  • Chicago, South Side, community includes all three listed neighborhoods
    • Englewood
    • West Englewood
    • Grater Grand Crossing
  • Chicago, West Side
    • West Town
    • Near West Side
    • Lower West Side
    • Humboldt Park
    • East Garfield Park
    • West Garfield Park
    • North Lawndale
    • South Lawndale
    • Austin

2. Funding allocated under this grant is intended to support an AOK Network that is guided by the AOK Conceptual Framework, for more information visit our website.

3. Applicants must apply by eligible community. An applicant must apply to serve an entire community. Applications to provide services to a partial community will not be considered for funding. In no case will more than one application be funded to serve the same community.

C. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

This competitive funding opportunity is limited to applicants that meet the following requirements:

  • The applicant has met the Prequalification and Mandatory Requirements listed in this funding opportunity.

2. Prequalification

Applicant entities will not be eligible to apply for a grant award until they have prequalified through the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) Grantee Portal, Grantee Links tab. Registration and prequalification are required annually. During prequalification, verifications are performed including a check of federal Debarred and Suspended status on the Illinois Stop Payment List and good standing with the Secretary of State. An automated email notification is sent to the entity alerting them of "qualified" status or providing information about how to remediate a negative verification (e.g., inactive DUNS, not in good standing with the Secretary of State). A federal Debarred and Suspended status cannot be remediated.

A statement indicating the applicant has completed Pre-Qualification steps and is currently Pre-Qualified will be required with the application. (A screenshot indicating the applicant has completed Pre-Qualification steps and is currently Pre-Qualified will also be accepted). Include statement or screenshot indicating completion of Pre-qualification steps as Attachment B: Statement of Prequalification.

For assistance navigating government application prequalification procedure, refer to IDHS GATA Prequalification Assistance.

Applicants must be prequalified; therefore, applications from entities that have not prequalified prior to the due date of this application will NOT be reviewed and will NOT be considered for funding.

The following information is required to complete registration:

  • Organization's Dun & Bradstreet number (DUNS); For additional information on DUNS, refer to Section Unique Entity Identifier (DUNS number) and System for Award Management (SAM) below.
  • Organization's Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN);
  • Organization type;
  • Illinois Secretary of State File ID (required for non-profits, for-profits and limited liability corporations);
  • Organization's name
  • Organization's mailing address;
  • Organization's primary email address;
  • Organization's primary phone number
  • Organization's fiscal year-end date

3. Unique Entity Identifier (UEI replaced DUNS April 2022) and System for Award Management (SAM)

Each applicant is required to:

  • Be registered in SAM.gov before submitting its application. Provide a valid unique entity identifier in its application; If your organization does not have one, please refer to EIU/DUNS to request one.
  • Continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which it has an active award, an application ,or plan under consideration by the Department

The Department may not make an award to an applicant until the applicant has complied with all applicable unique entity identifier and SAM requirements. If an applicant has not fully complied with the requirements by the time the Department is ready to make an award, the Department may determine that the applicant is not qualified to receive an award and use that determination as a basis for making an award to another applicant.

4. Pre-Award Requirements

The pre-award process includes a financial and administrative risk assessment utilizing an Internal Controls Questionnaire (ICQ) and a Programmatic Risk Assessment (PRA). The ICQ is completed for the organization, while the PRA must be completed for each separate grant for which an applicant intends to apply. The Department may NOT issue a Notice of Award or a Grant Agreement to any applicant that does not have a submitted and approved FY 23 ICQ and a submitted and complete FY 23 PRA(s). While these are NOT required prior to submitting the application, they are required prior to the Department issuing an award.

Applicants that have not completed an ICQ and/or PRA for the grant award year at the time of application will be contacted by the Department to complete these pre-award requirements.

These grantee pre-award requirements are mandated by Federal Uniform Guidance (2 CFR 200) and the Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA). Grantees must complete these requirements prior to receiving a grant award from the State of Illinois.

5. Registration in CSA

The CSA Tracking System is the system the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) utilizes for approving budgets and issuing grant awards. It is strongly recommended that if an applicant entity is not already registered in the CSA Tracking System, they should begin the registration as soon as possible so they may submit a signed budget in CSA. While registration in CSA is not part of the prequalification process, successful applicants will NOT be issued an award without a fully approved budget in the CSA System.

6. State and Federal Laws and Regulations

The agency awarded funds through this NOFO must agree to comply with all applicable provisions of state and federal laws and regulations pertaining to nondiscrimination, sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity including, but not limited to: The Illinois Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq.), The Public Works Employment Discrimination Act (775 ILCS 10/1 et seq.), The United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended) (42 USC 2000a-and 2000H-6), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC 794), The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 USC 12101 et seq.), and The Age Discrimination Act (42 USC 6101 et seq.).

7. Cost Sharing or Match Requirements

Providers are not required to participate in cost sharing or provide match.

8. Indirect Cost Rate

Indirect Cost Requirements and Restrictions

In order to charge indirect costs to this grant, the applicant organization must have a Federal or State annually negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) or must elect to use the De Minimis Rate.

Every organization that receives a state award must make an indirect cost rate proposal or election in the State of Illinois Grantee Portal, Centralized Indirect Cost Rate Election System, including organizations that are choosing not to claim payment for indirect costs.

Indirect Cost Rate Election:

  • Federally Negotiated Rate. Organizations that receive direct federal funding may have an indirect cost rate that was negotiated with the Federal Cognizant Agency. Illinois will accept the federally negotiated rate. The organization must provide a copy of the federal NICRA and submit an Indirect Cost Rate Proposal in the Crowe Activity Review System (CARS). 
  • State Negotiated Rate. The organization must negotiate an indirect cost rate with the State of Illinois by completing an indirect cost rate proposal in the CARS system if they do not have a Federally Negotiated Rate and would like to negotiate a rate with the State of Illinois.
    • De Minimis Rate. An organization may elect a De Minimis rate of 10% of modified total direct cost (MTDC)**. Once established, the De Minimis rate may be used indefinitely. If programs elect to use the De Minimis rate, it is critical that program budgets accurately calculate the MTDC base. Please see the regulation below and note the exclusions to MTDC.

**2 CFR § 200.68 Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC). MTDC means all direct salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and subawards and subcontracts up to the first $25,000 of each subaward or subcontract (regardless of the period of performance of the subawards and subcontracts under the award). MTDC excludes equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000. Other items may only be excluded when necessary to avoid a serious inequity in the distribution of indirect costs, and with the approval of the cognizant agency for indirect costs.

  • "No Rate": Grantees have discretion not to claim payment for indirect costs. Grantees that elect not to claim indirect costs cannot be reimbursed for indirect costs. The organization must record an election of "No Indirect Costs" into the Indirect Cost Rate Election System.
    • Crowe Activity Review System (CARS). CARS will allow your organization to document your already established federally approved indirect cost rate, or complete an indirect cost rate proposal (see State Negotiated Rate above). Submission requirements are located on page 2 of the Uniform Budget Template as well as 2 CFR 200 Appendices IV, V & VII.

Organizations which have not previously made an indirect cost rate election must submit an election (and indirect cost rate proposal, if necessary) immediately and no later than 3 months after receiving an award notification. If the organization elects to submit a Federally Negotiated Rate or a State Negotiated Rate they will receive an invitation to submit their proposal in the CARS system.

Organizations that have previously established an indirect cost rate election and would like to continue with a Federal or State Negotiated Rate must submit a new indirect cost rate election immediately and no later than 6 months after the close of their organization's fiscal year.

Organizations that do not make a submission inside the CARS system within the required timeframes will not be allowed to claim indirect cost reimbursement.

For more information, see Grant Accountability and Transparency Act.

9. Other Requirements (if applicable)

Not applicable

10. Grant Fund Use Requirements

All applicants will use grant funds according to the guidelines, conditions, and parameters set forth in this funding notice and in compliance with federal statutes, regulations and the terms and conditions of any applicable federal awards.

Please refer to 2 CFR 200 - Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, PART 200 Subpart E - Cost Principles to determine the appropriateness of costs.

  • Allowable costs are those that are necessary and reasonable based on the activity(ies) contained in the Scope of Work, are justified in the Budget Narrative, and are allowable under Subpart E of 2 CFR 200. It is expected that administrative costs, both direct and indirect, will represent a small portion of the overall program budget. Any budget deemed to include inappropriate or excessive administrative costs will not be approved. Program budgets and narratives must detail how all proposed expenditures are necessary for program implementation.
  • Unallowable costs: Please refer to 2 CFR 200 - Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, PART 200 Subpart E - Cost Principles to determine the appropriateness of costs. In addition, and specific to this grant, the following costs will be unallowable without specific prior written approval from IDHS:

    • Entertainment costs, except where specific costs that might otherwise be considered entertainment have a programmatic purpose and are authorized in the approved budget (2 CFR 200.438)
    • Capital expenditures for general purpose equipment, including any vehicle regardless of cost, buildings, and land (2 CFR 200.439)
    • Capital expenditures for improvements to land, buildings, or equipment which materially increase their value or useful life (2 CFR 200.439)
    • Food, and other goods or services for personal use of the grantee's employees, contractors, or consultants of the grantee unless authorized as per diem under the State of Illinois Governor's Travel Control Board (2 CFR 200.445).
    • Deposits for items, services, or space
  • Simplified Acquisition Threshold: Potential grantees under this funding announcement may receive an award in excess of the Simplified Acquisition Threshold, currently $250,000 (Refer to 2 CFR 200 Section 200.88). Therefore, the grantee must be aware of the following regarding the Simplified Acquisition Threshold as it will be applicable to any qualifying subaward:

    • That the grantee agency, prior to making a subaward with a total amount of funds greater than the simplified acquisition threshold, is required to review and consider any information about the applicant that is in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM (currently FAPIIS) (see 41 U.S.C. 2313);

      • That an applicant, at its option, may review information in the designated integrity and performance systems accessible through SAM and comment on any information about itself that the awarding agency previously entered and is currently in the designated integrity and performance system accessible through SAM;
      • That the awarding agency will consider any comments by the applicant, in addition to the other information in the designated integrity and performance system, in making a judgment about the applicant's integrity, business ethics, and record of performance under awards when completing the review of risk posed by applicants as described in §200.205 awarding agency review of risk posed by applicants.

11. Post Award Requirements of Applicant

Successful applicants agree to provide program services as described throughout this Funding Notice.

Start Date: Applicants must be in a position to begin offering services on July 1, 2022.

  • Technology: Agencies awarded funds through this funding notice should have a computer that meets the following minimum specifications for the purpose of utilizing any required IDHS web-based reporting system and the receipt/submission of electronic program and fiscal information:
    • Internet access, preferably high-speed
    • Email capability
    • Microsoft Excel
    • Microsoft Word
    • Adobe Reader

The purchase of this technology would be an allowable expenditure under the grant and may be budgeted for as part of this application.

  • Site Visits: The applicant agrees to participate in site visits/quality reviews as requested by the Department.
  • COVID Policies and Procedures: Provider organizations shall have written COVID policies and procedures that align with current guidelines put forth by the local Health Department, the Illinois Department of Public Health and/or the Center for Disease Control.
  • Sectarian Issue: Provider organizations may not expend federal or state funds for sectarian instruction, worship, prayer, or to proselytize. If the Provider organization is a faith-based or a religious organization that offers such activities, these activities shall be voluntary for the individuals receiving services and offered separately from the program.
  • Hiring and Employment Policy: It is the policy of the Department to encourage cultural diversity in the work environment and to promote employment opportunities through its programs. The Department philosophy is that the program workforce should appropriately reflect the populations to be served, with special attention given to hiring individuals indigenous to those communities. Consistent with Department policy, whenever a position becomes available, funded programs are encouraged to consider TANF clients for employment, contingent upon their qualifications in the areas of education and work experience.
  • Publication of Studies, Reports or other Program Products: The applicant agrees that products produced for the Department under this award, including, but not limited to research reports, data, analyses, and policy recommendations are the property of the Department and will not be published or distributed except as prescribed by the Department.

D. Application and Submission Information

1. Address to Request Application Package

Application materials are provided throughout this announcement. Appendices will be made available in user/printer friendly format and may be found on the Illinois Department of Human Services web site at ________. Additional copies may be obtained by contacting the Department at the email address below.

Each applicant must have access to the internet. The Department's web site will contain information regarding the NOFO and materials necessary for submission. Questions and answers will also be posted on the Department's website as described later in this announcement. It is the responsibility of each applicant to monitor that web site and comply with any instructions or requirements relating to the NOFO.

Program Email Address: DHS.AOK@Illinois.gov

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

Uniform Application for State Grant Assistance (Grant Application)

The Uniform Application for State Grant Assistance is a three-page document used to formalize organization's request to apply for funding. The document requires the signature and email address of the organization's authorized representative. This email address will be used for official communication between the Department and the applicant organization for matters regarding this application.  The Uniform Application for State Grant Assistance (pdf) is available as Appendix 1 and must be included at the beginning of this application.

Program Narrative

IMPORTANT: The program (proposal) narrative makes up the bulk of your application. Please provide a complete response to the following sections. If the program narrative is missing from your application packet, your application will receive a score of zero points and your agency will not meet the criteria to receive a grant under this notice of funding opportunity.

Proposal Narrative Content

The Proposed Narrative Content must be submitted as a pdf. The entire application including attachments, must be sequentially page numbered. All applications must be typed on 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper using, 12-point type and at 100% magnification (not reduced). The program narrative must not exceed the specific page limits outlined in this NOFO. The required attachments are NOT included in the page limitation.

Applicants must submit a proposal that contains the information outlined below. Each section must have a heading that corresponds to the headings in bold type listed below. Each section must begin on a new page and have a heading that corresponds to the headings listed below after each section number. The Grant Application, attachments, and Uniform Budget are not included in the page limitation.

If the applicant believes that the subject has been adequately addressed in another part of the application narrative, then provide the cross-reference to the appropriate part of the narrative. If a cross-reference is not included in the section, the reviewer will only consider content contained within that specific section. The narrative portion must follow the page maximums where prescribed and must be organized in the format outlined below.  If an applicant receives an award through this NOFO the proposal will become the local program plan and budget unless revisions are required. The application and plans will be the basis for monitoring compliance by DHS.

A. Executive Summary (2-page maximum) - 5 points

The Executive Summary will serve as a stand-alone document that may be shared with various state-level stakeholders and others requesting a brief overview of each funded project. Therefore, applicants should be concise and direct in their description. At a minimum, each of the following should be addressed in the Executive Summary.

  • State the total amount of funds requested.
  • Define the geographic area to be served and membership that will facilitate a strong early childhood system.
  • Give a short description about your agency. Include the agency's qualifications to execute the grant project.
  • Provide a short description of each of the initiatives proposed in this application.

B. Needs Statement (2-page maximum), 20 points

Provide a narrative and supporting data about the health, development, and wellbeing of expecting parents, children birth to five and their families in your designated community area. Use the most recent, community-specific data available. For each indicator, provide the data source and the year the data represents. If your agency is serving more than one county or Chicago neighborhood, break out the data. At a minimum, include the following data:

  • Demographics including population of children birth to age 5, variables such as poverty, race/ethnicity, and language use.
  • Social and economic factors, such as children in substitute care; English as a second or foreign language and refugee populations; and families receiving SNAP and TANF.
  • Other data related to health, safety, and development.

C. Capacity (4-page maximum) - 30 points

The purpose of this section is for the applicant to present an accurate picture of the capacity, readiness and ability to effectively coordinate and carryout the AOK Networks initiative in the identified geographical area. Information in this section should include, but not necessarily limited to, the following:

  • Name all early childhood collaboratives in your community, including if applicable the AOK Networks. Describe each collaborative's goals and major accomplishments. What is your role and level of engagement in those efforts? If there are no known collaboratives that are focusing on early child issues, please describe the level of readiness to begin working across sectors to engage local stakeholder on improving early childhood outcomes.
  • If there are any existing early childhood collaborative efforts, what would be the relationship with the AOK Network and how would they work together?
  • Indicate your vision/mission/purpose focused on building and or changing the local early childhood system to promote the positive development of children birth to five and their families.
  • Provide names of current programs and/or resources your organization provides within the targeted service area. How do you or will you assure your programs are actively engaged in the efforts of the AOK Network?
  • Describe recruitment and stakeholder engagement practices to ensure core stakeholders are engaged in cross system efforts, as well as to leverage a broader constituency focused on child and family issues. Use Appendix 2, AOK Networks' Partner Commitment template to submit as Attachment C, AOK Networks' Partner Commitment form with the list of local stakeholders that are committed to become AOK Network partners and engage in the implementation of the efforts described in your submitted FY23 plans.
  • Experience in maintaining the backbone structure for a collaborative that facilitates a shared vision and progress toward common goals, across diverse representation of community members and leaders.
  • Experience in managing an action plan of data-driven strategies and activities to effect change, including gathering and analyzing data, measuring and tracking process, and collecting additional data as needed to determine progress.
  • Submit as Attachment D: Organizational Chart, showing where this program and its staff will be placed. If subcontractors will be used, include who they will report to in the chart.
  • Submit as Attachment E: AOK Network Coordinator's Job Description
  • Submit as Attachment F: AOK Network Coordinator's Resume, if currently hired. If not, and the application is approved for funding, resume must be provided and approved by State Administrator before offer to hire can be made.
  • Submit as Attachment G: AOK Network Family Engagement Specialist's Job Description.
  • Submit as Attachment H: AOK Network Family Engagement Specialist's Resume, if currently hired. If not, and the application is approved for funding, resume must be provided and approved by State Administrator before offer to hire can be made.

D. Strategic Plan (4-page maximum) - 40 points

Communities with an Existing AOK Network

Provide the following information regarding the proposed strategic plan for SFY2023:

  • Attachment I: FY23 Network Capacity Initiative Plan for Existing AOK Network Communities
  • Attachment J: FY23 Information and Referral Initiative Plan for Existing AOK Network Communities
  • Attachment K: FY23 Child or Family Outcome Initiative Plan for Existing AOK Network Communities

 Prospective AOK Networks Grantees

 Provide the following information regarding the proposed strategic plan for SFY2023:

 Submit the completed plans as:

  • Attachment I: FY23 Network Capacity Initiative Plan for Prospective Communities
  • Attachment J: FY23 Information and Referral Initiative Plan for Prospective Communities

E. Budget and Budget Narrative- 5 points

The budget must be submitted via the Community Service Agreement System (CSA). For more information about submitting a budget in the CSA system, see IDHS GATA Budgets .

The Budget entered into the CSA system will include the narrative or detailed description/justification for each line in the budget and will describe why each expenditure is necessary for program implementation and how you arrived at the particular amount. Please include cost allocations as necessary. This narrative must also clearly identify indirect costs, direct program costs, direct administrative costs. The Budget should clearly describe how the specified resources and personnel have been allocated for the tasks and activities described in your plan. The Budget should be electronically signed and submitted in the CSA system. The Budget that has been entered into CSA should be printed out and included with your application as Attachment L: Applicant Budget. The Budget must be signed by the Grantee's Chief Executive Officer and/or Chief Financial Officer.

IMPORTANT: Please be sure the budget status in CSA says "GATA Budget signed and submitted to program review." This status will appear after the budget is electronically signed by the agency CEO or CFO and submitted to DHS.

If the Uniform Grant Budget is not entered, signed and submitted in the CSA system by the application due date and time, ZERO points will be awarded for the Budget Narrative section of the application.

Successful applicants will NOT receive a grant agreement until after their budget has been submitted and approved through the CSA system. It is critical that the budget submitted with the application is as detailed as possible.

The budget template and instructions can be used as a tool to assist in determining expenses; however, the final budget must be completed in CSA Budget/Tracking System and Registration Information database. The budget may need to be revised over the course of the grant approval process. IDHS State Administrator and Fiscal staff may work with grantees to negotiate a budget for the final grant award.

Mandatory Forms to be Completed by Applicant

  • Uniform Application for State Grant Assistance
  • Proposal Narrative
  • Budget and Budget Narrative
  • Required Attachments
    • Attachment A: Plan to Meeting the Salary Floor, if applicable
    • Attachment B: Statement of Prequalification
    • Attachment C: AOK Networks' Partner Commitment
    • Attachment D: Organizational Chart
    • Attachment E: AOK Network Coordinator's Job Description
    • Attachment F: AOK Network Coordinator's Resume
    • Attachment G: AOK Network Family Engagement Specialist's Job Description.
    • Attachment H: AOK Network Family Engagement Specialist's Resume,
    • Attachment I: FY23 Network Capacity Initiative Plan
    • Attachment J: FY23 Information and Referral Initiative Plan
    • Attachment K: FY23 Child or Family Outcome Initiative Plan
    • Attachment L: Applicant's Budget and Narrative (Copy as submitted through the CSA system)
    • Attachment M: If applicable: Federal NICRA

3. Application Submission Dates and Times

Applicants must electronically submit the complete application including all required narratives and attachments in the prescribed order, with the signed Uniform Application for State Grant Assistance on top. The Uniform Application can be found as Appendix 1.

Applications must be sent electronically to DHS.AOK@Illinois.gov  and received no later than 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Friday, 4/15/2022. The deadline will be strictly enforced without exception. In the event of a dispute, the applicant bears the burden of proof that the application was received on time.

The application container will be electronically time-stamped upon receipt. The Department will ONLY accept applications submitted by electronic mail sent to DHS.AOK@Illinois.gov. Include the following in the subject line: "AOK 23-444-84-1251 Your agency name."

Application submissions or delivery to any other email address or contact, including other IDHS offices or employees, will not be considered for review or funding. Applications will NOT be accepted if received by fax machine, hard copy, disk or thumb drive. The electronic copy must be a complete single PDF file.

Applicants will receive a receipt confirmation email within 48 hours of receipt notifying them that their application was received and the date and time it was received. This email will be sent to the email addresses provided in the application. This receipt confirmation email is solely confirmation that the application has been received by the Department; it is not a confirmation of applicant's eligibility; pre-qualifications, etc. Refer to Section C. Eligibility Information and Grant Funding Requirements, for more information on applicant's eligibility.

Applications received after the due date and time will not be considered for review or funding. All applicants/applications determined to be non-compliant or otherwise determined to be disqualified from consideration will be separately notified in writing, by email, upon determination. This email will be sent to the email addresses provided in the application and will identify the reason for disqualification.

All applicants are strongly encouraged to submit the completed grant application (single PDF document) to DHS.AOK@Illinois.gov utilizing the CMS File Transfer Utility . This will ensure large documents are able to cross firewalls and will provide you with a transmission receipt. Please follow the instructions to attach your application. Don't forget the subject line above.

For your records, please keep a copy of your submission with the date and time the application was submitted along with the email address to which it was sent. The deadline will be strictly enforced. Note: It is strongly recommended that the applicant not wait until the last minute to submit an application in case they experience technical difficulties with the submission process. Applicants should keep copies of all documentation that that may prove their application was submitted to the correct location and that it was received by DHS on or before the deadline. Applicants should also maintain all electronic documentation, including screen shots, email correspondence; help desk ticket numbers etc. that would document any unforeseen difficulties the applicant may have encountered regarding the timely submission of the application.

4. Unique Entity Identifiers (DUNS Number and SAM Registration)

Each applicant (unless the applicant is an individual or Federal or State awarding agency that is exempt from those requirements under 2 CFR § 25.110(b) or (c), or has an exception approved by the Federal or State awarding agency under 2 CFR § 25.110(d)) is required to:

  • Be registered in SAM.gov before the application due date. 
  • Provide a valid unique entity identifier (DUNS number) in its application; and
  • Continue to maintain an active SAM registration with current information at all times during which it has an active Federal, Federal pass-through or State award or an application or plan under consideration by a Federal or State awarding agency.
  • For more information, refer to Section C: Eligibility Information and Grant Funding Applications that fail to meet the criteria described in Section C: Eligibility Information and Grant Funding will not be scored and/or considered for funding.

E. Application Review Information

All competitive grant applications are subject to merit-based review.

1. Criteria and Weighting of Each Criteria

Applications that fail to meet the criteria described in Section C "Eligibility Information" will not be scored and/or considered for funding.

All applicants / applications determined to be non-compliant or otherwise determined to be disqualified from consideration will be notified in writing, by email, upon determination. This email will be sent to the email addresses provided in the application and will identify the reason for disqualification.

Review teams comprised of three or more individuals employed by IDHS serving in the Division of Early Childhood and the Division of Family and Community Services will be assigned to review applications. These review teams, may include contractual program staff and individuals working under contract from the University of Illinois. Applications will first be reviewed and scored individually. If there is a variation in scores the review team members will collectively review the applications, their scores, and comments to ensure review team members have not missed items within the application that other review team members identified. Application highlights and concerns will be discussed. Individual review team members may choose to adjust scores to appropriately capture content that may have been missed initially. Review score sheets will then be sent to the Application Review Coordinator to be compiled and averaged to produce the application review score.  Scoring will be on a 100-point scale.

Application Narratives will be evaluated on the following criteria:

Proposal Scoring Points
Executive Summary 5
Needs Statement 2
Capacity 30
Strategic Plan 40
Budget and Budget Narrative 5
Total 100

2. Review and Selection Process

As described in the Criteria section above, scoring will be done on a 100-point scale.  The numerical score may not be the sole award criterion. The Department reserves the right to consider other factors such as: geographical distribution, demonstrated need, and agency past performance as a state grantee, etc. While the recommendation of the review panel will be a key factor in the funding decision, the Department maintains final authority over funding decisions and considers the findings of the reviewers to be non-binding recommendations. Any internal documentation used in scoring or awarding of grants shall not be considered public information.

In the event of a tie with insufficient funding for all tied applications, the Department may choose to elect one of the following options:

  • Apply one or more of the additional factors for consideration described above to prioritize the applications; or
  • Partially fund each of the tied applications or
  • Not fund any of the tied applications.

The Department reserves the right to negotiate with successful applicants to adjust award amounts, targets, deliverables, etc.

3. Merit-Based Review Appeal Process

Competitive grant appeals are limited to the evaluation process. Evaluation scores may not be protested. Only the evaluation process is subject to appeal and shall be reviewed by IDHS' Appeal Review Officer (ARO).

Submission of Appeal

Appeals submission IDHS contact information:

  • Name of Agency contact for appeals:  Ana Maria Accove
  • Email of Agency contact for appeals:  DHS.AOK@illinois.gov 
  • Email Subject Line: "Your agency name AOK 23-444-84-1251:  Appeal"

An appeal must be submitted in writing to appeals submission IDHS contact listed above, who will send to the IDHS Appeal Review Officer (ARO) for consideration.

  • An appeal must be received within 14 calendar days after the date that the grant award notice has been published.
  • The written appeal shall include at a minimum the following:
    • Name and address of the appealing party;
    • Identification of the grant; and
    • Statement of reasons for the appeal.
    • Supporting documentation, if applicable

Response to Appeal

IDHS will acknowledge receipt of an appeal within fourteen (14) calendar days from the date the appeal was received.

  • IDHS will respond to the appeal within 60 days or supply a written explanation to the appealing party as to why additional time is required.
  • The appealing party must supply any additional information requested by IDHS within the time period set in the request.

Resolution

The ARO shall make a recommendation to the Agency Head or designee as expeditiously as possible after receiving all relevant, requested information.

  • In determining the appropriate recommendation, the ARO shall consider the integrity of the competitive grant process and the impact of the recommendation on the State Agency.
  • The Agency will resolve the appeal by means of written determination.
  • The determination shall include, but not be limited to:
    • Review of the appeal;
    • Appeal determination; and
    • Rationale for the determination.

F. Award Administration Information

1. State Award Notices

Applicants recommended for funding under this NOFO following the above review and selection process will receive a Notice of State Award (NOSA). The NOSA shall include:

  • Grant award amount
  • The terms and conditions of the award
  • Specific conditions, if any, assigned to the applicant based on the fiscal and administrative (ICQ), programmatic risk assessments (PRA) and merit-based review.

Note: The Department cannot issue a NOSA until the successful applicant has an approved budget entered into CSA. The applicant shall receive the NOSA through the Grantee Portal. The NOSA must be signed by the grants officer (or equivalent). This signature effectively accepts the state award amount and all conditions set forth within the notice. This signed NOSA is the document authorizing the Department to proceed with issuing an agreement. The Agency signed NOSA must be remitted to the Department as instructed in the notice.

The notice is not an authorization to begin performance (to the extent that it allows charging to State awards of pre-award costs at the non- State entity's own risk).

A written Notice of Denial shall be sent to the applicants not receiving the award.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

The agency awarded funds shall provide services as set forth in the IDHS grant agreement and shall act in accordance with all state and federal statutes and administrative rules applicable to the provision of the services.

To review a sample of the FY2023 IDHS Uniform Grant Agreement.

The agency awarded funds through this Funding Notice must further agree to comply with all applicable provisions of state and federal laws and regulations pertaining to nondiscrimination, sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity including, but not limited to: The Illinois Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq.), The Public Works Employment Discrimination Act (775 ILCS 10/1 et seq.), The United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended) (42 USC 2000a-and 2000H-6), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC 794), The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 USC 12101 et seq.), and The Age Discrimination Act (42 USC 6101 et seq.). Additional terms and conditions may apply.

3. Reporting

Upon execution of the grant agreement, reporting shall be in accordance with the requirements set forth in the Uniform Grant Agreement and related Exhibits which includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Time Period for Required Periodic Financial Reports. Grantee shall submit financial reports to Grantor pursuant to Paragraph 13.1 of the Uniform Grant Agreement and reports must be submitted by the 15th of the month following the reporting period.
  • Time Period for Close-out Reports. Grantee shall submit a Close-out Report pursuant to Paragraph 13.2 of the Uniform Grant Agreement and no later than 15 days after this Agreement's end of the period of performance or termination.
  • Time Period for Required Periodic Performance Reports. Grantee shall submit Performance Reports to Grantor pursuant to Paragraph 14.1 of the Uniform Grant Agreement and such reports must be submitted semi-annually no later than 15 days after the reporting period ends.
  • Time Period for Close-out Performance Reports. Grantee agrees to submit a Close-out Performance Report, pursuant to Paragraph 14.2 of the Uniform Grant Agreement and no later than 30 days after this Agreement's end of the period of performance or termination.
  • Other Unique Programmatic Reporting Requirements: Additional annual performance data may be collected as directed by the Department and in a format prescribed by the Department.

4. Payment Terms

It is the policy of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) that this policy complies with 2 CFR 200.302, 2 CFR 200.305, 31 CFR 205 (procedures implementing Cash Management Improvement Act and Treasury-State Agreement (TSA)), and 44 Ill. Admin. Code 7000.120 (GOMB Adoption of Supplemental Rules for Grant Payment Methods). Three different award payment method exist, namely Advance Payment, Reimbursement, and Working Capital Advance. Each is discussed below:

Advance Payment Method (Advance and Reconcile)

  • An initial payment will be processed in an amount equal to the first two months' cash requirements as reflected in the Advance Payment Requirements Forecast (Cash Budget) Form submitted with the Grantee's application. The initial payment will be processed upon execution of the grantee's Uniform Grant Agreement.
  • Grantees must submit monthly invoices in the format and method prescribed in the Grantee's executed Uniform Grant Agreement. The first invoice is due within 15 days after the first month of the Award's term. Invoices must include only allowable incurred costs that have been paid by the Grantee. For programs that have Grantee matching requirements, allowable costs are only reimbursable when matching costs have also been incurred.
  • Subsequent monthly payments will be based on each monthly invoice submitted by Grantee to Grantor, and will be adjusted up or down, based on a comparison of actual cumulative expenditures to cumulative advance payments, to date.
  • Grantees that do not expend all advance payment amounts by the end of the Award term or that are unable to demonstrate that all incurred costs were necessary, reasonable, allowable, or allocable as approved in their respective budget, must return the funds within 45 days..
  • Grantees may be required to submit supporting documentation for their requests at the request of and in a manner prescribed by the Grantor.
  • Failure to abide by advance payment governance requirements may result in grantee losing their right to advance payments.

Reimbursement Method

  • IDHS will disburse payments to Grantee based on actual allowable costs incurred as reported in the monthly financial invoice submitted for the respective month, as described below.
  • Grantees must submit monthly invoices in a format prescribed by Grantor. Invoices must include all allowable incurred costs for the first and each subsequent month of operations until the end of the Award term. Invoices must be submitted on or before the 15th calendar day following the end of each monthly invoice period. As practicable, Grantor shall process payment within 30 calendar days after receipt of the invoice, unless the State awarding agency reasonably believes the request to be improper.
  • Grantees may be required to submit supporting documentation for their requests at the request of and in a manner prescribed by the Grantor.

Working Capital Advance Method

  • IDHS Grant Program Managers will advance working capital payments to the grantee to cover their estimated disbursement needs for an initial period not to exceed two months of grant expenses. Startup costs may be approved if determined by IDHS Grant Program Managers to be allowable.
  • Grantees must submit monthly invoices for each of the one or two months covered by the Working Capital Advance in the format and method prescribed by the Grantor. The first invoice is due 15 calendar days after the first month of the Award term. Invoices must include only allowable incurred costs that have been paid by the grantee. For grant programs that have grantee matching requirements, allowable costs are only reimbursable when matching costs have also been incurred.
  • Grantees may be required to submit supporting documentation for their requests at the request of and in a manner prescribed by the Grantor.
  • Working Capital Advance Payments are limited to a single occurrence per grant term.
  • Following the initial working capital advance payment, grantees will be paid via advance or reimbursement method as appropriate.

Additional Advance Payments

Additional working capital advance payments may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Such requests must be made in writing, may require supporting documentation and must be approved by IDHS Executive Staff.

Payment Forms

  • Grants Invoice Template
  • Advance Payment Request Cash Budget Form (IL444-4985)

G. State Awarding Agency Contact(s)

Ana Maria Accove, State Administrator
All Our Kids Early Childhood Networks
Bureau of Collaboration and Partnership
IDHS, Division of Early Childhood
401 S. Clinton 3rd Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60607
dhs.aok@illinois.gov
Phone: 312-793-2748

Questions and Answers

If you have questions relating to this NOFO, please send them via email to: DHS.AOK@Illinois.gov with "AOK Networks Funding Notice Question" in the subject line of the email. Beginning February 28, 2022, questions with their respective answers will be posted on the DHS website. Questions and answers will be updated frequently as new questions are received. Applicants are responsible for checking frequently as the responses provided may have an impact on their ability to submit a responsive application. Only written answers posted on the website will be considered valid and official.

The final deadline to submit any written questions regarding this Funding Notice will be Wednesday; 4/06/2022. The Final listing of Q&A will be posted by End of Day on Friday, 4/08/2022.

H. Other Information, if applicable

Technical Assistance Conference Information.

One Web-based Technical Assistance (TA) Conference will be provided for potential applicants.  Attendance is NOT a requirement of the application although it is strongly encouraged. During this session, DHS staff will provide an overview of the program and expectations of the grant. DHS staff will devote a significant amount of time responding to questions from potential applicants. Potential applicants are asked to review the Funding notice and associated Appendices in detail in advance of the TA Conference. Questions should be prepared and submitted in ADVANCE of the scheduled TA session. Although we will still take questions during the TA session, to ensure your question is addressed, please submit your questions as directed below no later than Close of Business  Friday, March 4, 2022.

TA Conference Date: Wednesday, 03/09/2022 from 1:00pm to 2:00pm
Technical Assistance Conference Questions should be submitted to:

Email: dhs.aok@Illinois.gov
Subject: AOK Networks NOFO TA Questions

I. Mandatory Forms