Communications RFP Issued By Nebraska Department of Education

The Request for Proposal is designed to solicit proposals from qualified vendors who will be responsible for providing a Communications and Public Engagement Project at a competitive and reasonable cost. Proposals that do not conform to the mandatory items as indicated in the Request for Proposal will not be considered. Proposals shall conform to all instructions, conditions, and requirements included in the Request for Proposal. Prospective bidders are expected to carefully examine all documentation, schedules and requirements stipulated in this Request for Proposal, and respond to each requirement in the format prescribed. A fixed-price contract will be awarded as a result of this proposal. In addition to the provisions of this Request for Proposal and the awarded proposal, which shall be incorporated by reference in the contract, any additional clauses or provisions required by the terms and conditions will be included as an amendment to the contract.

As stated in the legislation, the purpose of the Step Up To Quality act is: a) To provide accountability for public funds invested in child care and early childhood education programs; b) To provide a path to higher quality for child care and early childhood education programs; c) To provide a tool for parents to evaluate the quality of child care and early childhood education programs; and d) To improve child development and school readiness outcomes


In 2013, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB507, the Step Up To Quality Child Care Act, resulting in Nebraska’s Early Childhood Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). The QRIS is a system for rating early childhood care and education programs, which includes quality standards, supports and incentives for meeting quality standards, and a mechanism to track accountability of public dollars. Nebraska was the 41st state in the nation to launch a QRIS, and has now completed its 5th year of implementation. Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) is Nebraska’s five-step quality rating and improvement system for child care and early childhood education programs. It is co-administered by the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE), Office of Early Childhood and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Children and Family Services (DHHS). Programs participating in Step Up To Quality are publicly rating in a five-step model, with Step 1 recognized as having enrolled in the quality improvement process, and Step 5 recognized as having far exceeded the quality standards. While participation in Step Up To Quality is largely voluntary, certain programs and providers are required by the legislation to participate based on the amount of public Child Care Subsidy dollars they receive in a contractual agreement with DHHS. A copy of the Step Up To Quality Program Guide along with other key documents and resources can be found at

The State of Nebraska, Department of Education, Office of Early Childhood, is issuing this Request for Proposal, RFP for SUTQ Communication and Marketing for the purpose of selecting a qualified contractor to provide a Communications and Public Engagement Project. A contract resulting from this Request for Proposal will be issued for a period of two (2) years effective SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 to AUGUST 31, 2022 , with the option to renew for three (3) additional oneyear (1 year) periods as mutually agreed upon by all parties.

Scope of Work:

This RFP represents an open, competitive process. The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is currently seeking proposals for a statewide communication and public engagement project for Step Up to Quality involving media services, creative development and assistance with new media use, social media marketing, earned media opportunities, and other innovative and creative methods to engage the identified audiences. The project will be funded and implemented in two phases over a two-year period, contingent upon successful Phase I completion. The Work Plan should clearly articulate proposed activities addressing the following objectives

Phase I: 

· Recruitment of licensed child care home providers, child care centers, Head Starts, and school-based early childhood programs into Step Up to Quality, and the promotion and encouragement of their ongoing participation in the system;

· Build upon and refine existing messaging, marketing and advertisement based on successes and new opportunities;

· Focus efforts on recognition of quality achievement in addition to quality rating levels attained; and

· Communicate information to existing Step Up to Quality participants about upcoming changes in the Step Up to Quality program processes and content resulting from the federal Preschool Development Birth through Five Grant (PDG) awarded to Nebraska.

Phase II: 

· Continue to educate parents about the importance of quality in early childhood care and education programs, and how Step Up To Quality helps providers and programs improve quality at every step in the process; 

· Help parents understand the various step levels of Step Up To Quality, and to recognize that participation at every level indicates a commitment to ongoing quality improvement; 

· Continue to encourage parents to use Step Up To Quality as a tool when searching for quality care and education programs for their children; and

· Continue to educate policymakers and the general public about the importance of quality in child care and early childhood education programs, and its future impact on child development and school readiness.

The successful applicant will provide quarterly progress reports to the Step Up To Quality Steering Team (dates to be determined), and must work collaboratively with NDE and DHHS throughout the course of the project. Additionally, the successful applicant should maintain a general working knowledge of key issues regarding high quality child care and early childhood education programs, and its impact on school readiness in children.

The bidder must provide the following information in response to this Request for Proposal:

· A comprehensive multi-media communications plan to engage the audiences described above that builds upon previously conducted outreach and communications resources and efforts, and introduces new outreach methods and strategies; 

· Distinct messaging strategies to reach both urban and rural child care and early childhood education programs across Nebraska, tailored to the specific audiences of Family Child Care Home providers, Child Care Centers, Head Starts, and Schoolbased early childhood education programs, which improves upon current resources in use, and introduces new methods/strategies (Phase I);

· Distinct messaging strategies to reach urban and rural parents, families, policymakers, and the general public, which improves upon current resources in use, and introduces new methods/strategies (Phase II);

· An implementation timeline and budget, including a budget narrative for communication tools and actions, with Phase I and Phase II activities and costs clearly articulated and specified; 

· A methodology for determining the impact and success of Step Up To Quality communication strategies; and

· Two letters of reference in lieu of Performance Bond, which describe experience in designing, implementing, and evaluating messaging campaigns targeting a statewide, demographically diverse audience, preferably focusing on family, child development, or educational issues.

Due Date:

JUNE 1, 2020, 5:00 p.m. CST


Nebraska Department of Education P.O. Box 94987 Lincoln, NE 68509-4987 Phone: (402) 471-0348 Fax: (402) 471-0117

Relevant agencies include Magrino PR and MWWPR.

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