Category: A Tomas Consulting

Early Head Start – Child Care (EHS-CC) Partnerships: Why Do We Need Them?

EHS Child Care Partnerships

It’s Summer…Let’s Get Working!

Business is getting busier…which is always a good thing!  If anyone needs a program assessment or grant work, let me know.  Even in this economy, there are grants waiting to be applied for and awarded to a variety of organizations.  Writing and reviewing grant applications is just one way we can help make your business better!  Love my work!

New Round of Head Start Grants Announced has posted its new set of Funding Opportunity Announcements.  Check out this link to search for your grant.  Just enter in your keywords and hit search!

Contact A Tomas Consulting for assistance with understanding the grant opportunity, writing your grant application or for a review and feedback on your proposal.  Our firm works with agencies from all background looking for a grant.  Let us help you win your grant.


Grant Opportunities!

Head Start – Window of Opportunity

It’s Almost Summer

For the kids, the phrase, “It’s almost summer,” brings big smiles and sparkling eyes.  Summer means two months of freedom…freedom from getting up early, going to school, structure, and homework.  For educators, summer means a break in the public school system, but not for those in the private childcare sector.  Summer means school agers who don’t want to be in structure attending summer camps all over the city.  The end of the school year brings end of year evaluations.  Summer means reviewing those evaluations and planning for the next school year.  Summer does not mean rest.

A quality program looks at how the previous school year went, identifies strengths and weaknesses, and makes plans on how to increase the strengths and improve the weaknesses.  This does not mean that the program is low performing.  It means that the program is being proactive in making the education services to advance to the next level.  We know as educators that we are always learning and being able to pass that on to our children and their families benefits all.

I have worked with hundreds of teachers and administrators through evaluating programs, providing feedback and teacher education as well as helping to plan for improvement.  For the most part, I have always met teachers who are open to learning how increase the quality of their classrooms.  Teachers are teachers because they want to help children learn.  It isn’t an easy career and we know that the salaries do not adequately compensate for the work, but the teaching field is truly a labor of love.  We teach because we love it.  I work with centers because I believe that every child deserves quality education, from the very beginning to the very end of their school life.  For most children, the very beginning starts at three and sometimes as early as 2 months of age.

Fresh eyes assessing a classroom or reviewing the required center paperwork only can help Directors and administrators know where they stand and where they need to go.  Education is about learning and learning is about growing.  Organizations can learn and grow along with the children and families that they serve.

First Coast News on Jacksonville Urban League Head Start Program

Jacksonville Urban League Loses Their Head Start Grant

12 Great Motivational Quotes for 2013

I had to share this as everyone needs some inspiration sometime.

This set of inspirational thoughts for the New Year will galvanize you into action.

At the start of every year, I create a list of quotes to guide and inspire me for the next 12 months. Here are the quotes I’ve selected for 2013:

  1. “Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” Napoleon Hill
  2. “The key to success is to focus our conscious mind on things we desire not things we fear.” Brian Tracy
  3. “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” Dale Carnegie
  4. “Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats.” Og Mandino
  5. “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.” Tony Robbins
  6. “If you can’t control your anger, you are as helpless as a city without walls waiting to be attacked.” The Book of Proverbs
  7. A mediocre person tells. A good person explains. A superior person demonstrates. A great person inspires others to see for themselves.” Harvey Mackay
  8. “Freedom, privileges, options, must constantly be exercised, even at the risk of inconvenience.” Jack Vance
  9. “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn
  10. “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar
  11. “The number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep on trying.” Tom Hopkins
  12. “You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.” Seth Godin

Readers: I want to begin this year with a huge burst of motivation. Can you help me out? What quotes or thoughts inspire YOU to be the best that you can be?  (Leave a comment!)

Geoffrey James writes the Sales Source column on, the world’s most visited sales-oriented blog. His newly published book is Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies From the World’s Top Sales Experts@Sales_Source

Head Start and Early Head Start

For many Head Start programs around the country, the sequester is forcing tough decisions regarding staff, children and services offered to those in need.  A mandatory 5% cut in funding is required by all Head Start and Early Head Start programs with the results including laying off employees, combining positions so that one employee is now doing the work of two or more and terminating enrollment for children.  The sequester may be what some people felt was needed but it does affect more than just a small number of needy children and families.  And with all of this to handle, Head Start and Early Head Start programs may also be looking at applying for additional funding.  Even with the sequester, grants are up for bid in areas all over the United States.

Based on the reformed Head Start requirements, programs with deficiencies during a Federal Review are required to re-bid for their grants.  This means that the grants are open to bids from other agencies for the same or split service areas.  Organizations that think they can provide higher quality of services are encouraged to apply for the funding and to present their case to the Office of Head Start in the form of a grant application.   To prepare for this, the Office of Head Start recruited Grant Reviewers.  Over 1,300 applicants were selected to participate in a training in Washington, DC, and of those applicants, 20% were chosen to be reviewers for the applications.  I was in the 20% that was chosen, trained, vetted, and consistently used to review applications in the first round of re-competition.

After working in the fields of early childhood education, non-profits and social services for over 20 years, I have often heard agency staff talk about another agency’s program and how they could do it better.  The refunding provides opportunities for those staff to show how they would do it…differently, better, more efficient.  As someone who has been trained, interviewed, and employed by the Office of Head Start to review grant applications, I understand what they are looking for when those applications are submitted.  As someone who has worked in early childhood in a variety of roles, including as a Teacher, Center Director, Coordinator, and Department Director, I understand Head Start and Early Head Start services and goals.  With my combined experience, I am able to offer my support in applying for a Head Start grant and in evaluating current services being offered.  I can tell you what your program’s strengths are as well as identify areas that need improvement.  I can review your grant application and provide feedback as to what works and what needs editing.

The Head Start and Early Head Start populations are among the neediest in the country.  The funds for these services come from the people of the United States.  These services are required to be high quality and make an impact and they should meet those requirements.  This program not only provides early childhood education, it also provides services to help family members gain employment, further education, and become self-sufficient.  Children who receive early childhood education are more successful in school which also affects society and everyone involved.  This program fills a need and makes a difference and it should be required to meet the highest standards.  I can help you program be one of the best and showcase that in your grant application.

FOA:Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems: Building Health Through Integration

Appraisals Stop Some Home Sales as Market Heats Up

WINDERMERE, Fla. – April 1, 2013 – A young couple, both doctors, thought they had themselves a deal when the owners of a Windermere house agreed in January to sell it for $460,000 – $15,000 below the asking price.

But then the property appraisal came back for $130,000 less than the buyer and seller had agreed the house was worth. That killed the deal.

“My buyers went and bought something else,” Lake Mary real-estate broker Nancy Pombo said. “And those people who were selling that house were looking at buying another house – they wanted to downsize.” Instead, they took the house off the market.

“It’s like a chain reaction,” she said, “and it’s affecting buyers and sellers.”

Mortgage companies routinely require appraisals on home purchases to help ensure that a lender can get its money back if a buyer later defaults on the loan and the lender has to sell the property. But appraisals are particularly challenging in a fast-changing market, such as the current one, because they are based on previous sales.

In the core Orlando market, for example, resale prices have risen more than 10 percent in just the past six months – more than they usually increase during an entire year when the market is stable.

“Buyers and sellers are agreeing to prices that haven’t been supported with current sales,” said Brian Watkins, president of Accusured Management LLC, a residential-real-estate appraisal-management company based in Longwood. “The appraisal may be $4,000 down from the sales price, and each side [buyer and seller] ends up compromising on something.”

No one tracks the gaps between appraised values and contract prices on home sales, but in a survey released in January of 3,586 real-estate agents nationwide, about 10 percent of the agents reported sales that had been canceled during the previous three months because of appraisal problems; 10 percent also reported that sales prices had been driven down by appraisals; and 10 percent blamed appraisals for delaying some deals.

Appraisers know that home values are rising again, but they’re reluctant to demonstrate that in their appraisals for fear of push-back from lenders, according to the survey, issued by the National Association of Realtors.

Joyce Potts, a longtime Orlando appraiser, said the industry has come full circle from the days leading up to the peak of the frenzied real-estate market in 2007 – a time when banks sometimes suggested to appraisers what the value of a house should be so that the loan would be approved.

“Most appraisers didn’t know how to start if they didn’t have a prescribed number to hit. … When banks were rewarding appraisers for hitting the number, it exacerbated the [housing] bubble,” Potts said.

“Now we’re going in the entire opposite direction.”

Appraisal reforms swept the nation in 2009 after New York State’s then-attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, filed a complaint against an appraisal company, which ultimately led Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to implement what they called the Home Valuation Code of Conduct.

The code sought to distance appraisers from lenders by putting “appraisal-management” companies between them. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 replaced the code with standards that now allow lenders to establish their own appraisal-management firms, though the law continued to call for a firewall between appraisers and lenders.

New homes for sale can be particularly challenging for appraisers because newly built houses have been increasing so much in price.

“With low interest rates, builders are trying to expand their profit margins. And the cost of labor has gone up because there are not as many people available to do the [construction] work,” said Sean Calegan, owner of A.A. Appraisals Inc. in Oviedo.

Also, buyers are often willing to pay a premium for a home that is completely new and can be customized, he said. But appraisers, to protect against a builder setting artificially inflated prices within a new-home community, will use resold homes and houses sold by competing builders as the comparable sales in their report, he added.

Watkins, owner of the Longwood appraisal-management company, said homebuilders complain that it’s unfair for appraisers to set the value of a new house based on prices paid for nearby foreclosed and “short-sale” homes. But some areas are so saturated with such distress sales, he said, that they do define the neighborhood.

“If the market is riddled with foreclosures, then that’s what’s setting the market pace,” he said. “The rule of thumb is: Whatever the majority of sales are, that’s what you’re going to try to use for comparables.”

Copyright © 2013 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.), Mary Shanklin. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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