A lot of interesting things have been happening in the social impact bond space over the past several weeks. Here is a recap of three major events.
Early Education in New York City: Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer proposed a social impact bond to expand Early Head Start, an early education program. According to the New York Times report of his proposal, the idea appears to have political motivation to counter the tax-the-rich proposal of Bill de Blasio, a New York public advocate. Early Head Start offers educational services to children ages 3-5 through 250 centers throughout New York City. The program has been evaluated through rigorous trials at the national level and found to positive results: “Compared with controls, Early Head Start parents were more emotionally supportive, provided more language and learning stimulation, read to their children more, and spanked less."
One of the biggest concerns about the applicability of the social impact bond model to Early Head Start is whether the program pays for itself through cashable savings at the city or state level. Existing designs of social impact bond programs (designs, since only one program is in operation) center on programs that generate government savings. This value proposition has made social impact bonds especially attractive as state struggle to fund social programs in a time of fiscal austerity. I will write more on early childhood social impact bond programs later.
Healthcare in New Jersey: Assemblyman Angel Fuentes (D-Camden/Gloucester) has introduced legislation to create program and studies and issues social impact bonds to improve healthcare to low-income residents. The bill does not propose a specific program, but rather appoints the NJ Economic Development Authority to study whether such a program is possible. The proposal has its own Twitter account at @NJ_SIB_Act.