2020 COVID-19 Health Equity Improvement Initiative
Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: August 17, 2020

(1) What is the difference between an RFA and an RFP?

An RFA defines a scope of services and all qualified applicants are funded, within funding and other limits of the initiative. By contrast, in a Request for Proposals (RFP), applicants compete for funding and the State selects which organization or organizations to fund. The 2020 COVID-19 Health Equity Improvement Initiative is an RFA.

(2) Does the COVID-19 Health Equity Improvement Initiative support activities and projects, or does it support capacity building?

The federal government limits the types of expenditures for which the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) can be used. All expenditures must be related to addressing the public health emergency created by the coronavirus. Therefore, applications for this Initiative, which is funded by the CRF, must enumerate expenses that address COVID-19. Applicants may indicate a need to plan, contract, and hire or pay for staff time, but such request must be directly related to the provision of services for COVID-19.

(3) Is the contract cost settled or fee for service?

The contract will be cost settled, which means that the Department will pay upfront the first two months of approved projected costs. The final payment be cost settled with invoice. Each organization will be required to submit a final financial report by November 30, which documents expenditures from August 1 through November 15, 2020. The final payment (October/November expenses) will be paid if the financial report indicates all costs have been incurred.

(4) Can the narrative exceed 1 page?

Yes, up to 3 pages.

(5) Can applicants list more than one county of service?

Yes. It is helpful to be as specific as possible about the location of service and which population(s) you plan to serve.

(6) Is there a ceiling for awards?

The total amount of funding for all approved applicants is one million dollars. This means, for example, if 20 organizations were approved for funding from August 1 through November 15, the average amount of the awards would be $50,000. While there is no ceiling for each approved applicant, expenses outside the scope of the Initiative or that request a disproportionate amount for the population served may be excluded from the approved contract.

(7) Are applicants permitted to partner or subcontract?

Yes. Subcontracts are permitted. Multiple agencies can decide to work together and submit a single application. In this case, the multiple agencies would need to choose a lead agency that would contract with the State and sub-contract with the other partnering agencies. Interested organizations that do not have 501(c)(3) status may choose to work with an agency that has 501(c)(3) status who is willing to serve as fiscal sponsor.

(8) Will the State provide a single contact person for applicants receiving this funding?

Yes. If you need additional information or have questions about this Application, please contact Alexandria Lauritzen at 207-624-4109. Or, send your questions via email to Alexandria.Lauritzen@maine.gov. Alexandria will be able to assist with programmatic questions.

Once the contracts have been awarded, contact information will be provided for the Division of Contract Management (DCM) within DHHS. DCM will help guide organizations through the contract process and are best able to answer related financial questions.

(9) Why did the State designate the Office for Family Independence to administer these funds?

The Office for Family Independence is the primary administrator of social services for the Department of Health and Human Services, and therefore has the most infrastructure and professional experience relevant to this need.

(10) How will referrals for social services work? Will the CDC or DHHS have a single liaison for referrals for social services?

Referrals for social support services can be made by the Maine CDC, doctors, or community members. Regardless of the referral source, all individuals/families receiving services must be recorded/tracked to ensure everyone requesting services receives them and that there is no duplication of services.

The referral process will be determined once all organizations interested in providing social support services have been identified. When applications are approved, DHHS will work with community-based organizations to clarify the population served, services provided, languages they work with, and what days of the week they are able to provide services. (Note referrals from the Maine CDC and physicians are generally made between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. including weekends.

These questions are requested to help develop a referral process for OFI and partner agencies rather than exclude anyone from consideration for the funding.

(11) Will Maine CDC automatically refer cases or contact for social services?

No. To maintain confidentiality and privacy, all persons are asked if they agree to have their information shared with a local community care or social support agency and those that do not agree will not be referred.

(12) Where do we find a Vendor form and to whom do we send the completed form?

Organizations that wish to contract with the State need to complete a vendor form.

The completed form needs to be mailed, because the original document is required by the Office of the State Controller. Please mail completed vendor forms to:

Denise Richardson
Office for Family Independence
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
11 State House Station, 109 Capitol Street
Augusta, ME 04333-0011

(13) What else does an organization need to have in addition to a vendor form?

In addition to a vendor form, applicants or their fiscal sponsor must present a certificate of liability insurance. Applicants seeking $50,000 or more in funding will also need a DUN number. To apply for a DUN number, see https://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/

(14) Where do we send completed applications?

You can email the completed Application to DHHS.CovidSocialSupport@maine.gov. Or, if you wish to send a paper version of this Application, please mail with a postmark of August 24, 2020 to:

Denise Richardson
Office for Family Independence
Maine Department of Health and Human Services
11 State House Station, 109 Capitol Street
Augusta, ME 04333-0011

(15) Will the funds be apportioned by the size of the population an agency proposes to serve?

The funds will be apportioned based on a number of factors, including but not limited to the submitted budgets and the estimates for cost of service.

(16) The application says that funds must be used to provide services for individuals not already receiving the same service.

Individuals receiving MaineCare SNAP, TANF, GA, etc. are also eligible for temporary social support services, if they or their family members test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19. We recognize that many may need additional support due to COVID-19 exposure. However, these funds cannot be used to provide the same temporary COVID-19 social support services to a family that another agency is already providing to that family.

(17) The application lists translation services. Will interpreter services also be covered?

Yes. Please consider the need for these services in your request and budget.

(18) Can supportive activities include work with community partners like schools, aftercare and childcare programs?

Yes. Funding can be used to ensure social distancing guidelines can be implemented, to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to be made available for community members and staff to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Supportive services can also be delivered to teachers, students, childcare providers and their families should they test positive as well as close contacts and their families.

(19) Do supportive activities need to be tied to a specific individual?

Supportive activities described in the third bullet in the list of activities that may be included in the RFA (page 2) are defined as individual- or household-level services to assure that people served can maintain isolation and quarantine. Supportive social services must be tied to an individual, household, or an event (i.e., outbreak, outreach campaign, or testing). Names are needed to provide individual/household services in order for the organization to be reimbursed/account for expenditures. The name of at least one person in the household with the number of persons in the home is required. Funds may be used to support those affected by COVID 19, including individuals that are confirmed positive, awaiting test results or deemed to be a close contact to positive case. Expenses associated with outreach, education, and testing are covered and the applicant does not need to demonstrate that all participants are a case or close contact.

(20) What project expenses are not eligible for reimbursement?

Expenses for work funded by another funding source, activities not listed or approved in the application, or work performed outside the funding period (August 1-November 15, 2020) are not eligible for reimbursement. Activities must be linked to COVID prevention or mitigation. This Initiative will not be able to fund cash or rental assistance.

(21) Where can I find examples of reporting documents and procedures that will be required?

We will provide links to or templates of acceptable reporting documents and associated procedures.

(22) May funds be used for COVID cases whose immigration status is unknown?

The law creating the Coronavirus Relief Fund does not include limits on its use related to immigration status; funded programs are not required to ask about individuals immigration status.

(23) Will there be additional funding opportunities beyond this few months?

The State is committed to supporting the needs of communities to reduce the racial and ethnic disparities associated with COVID-19. Federal funding provided through the Coronavirus Relief Fund is limited to this calendar year. We will continue to examine opportunities to fund related work. We will work to do so in alignment with the suggestions made by community leaders about how to most effectively reach targeted populations through partnership with community-based organizations.