What is Shared Services?
Shared Services is a framework or organizational structure that allows providers to pay attention to providing high quality teaching and learning (pedagogical leadership), while at the same time making sure the business and administrative tasks that support a high quality approach are performed well (business leadership). In a Shared Services Alliance, multiple ECE sites pool needs and share resources – including staff, information, skills and funds – in order to improve the long-term capacity to provide high quality care.
A Shared Services framework lets programs be big where big matters and small where small matters. For example, it can help:
- A group of independent (non-profit or tax-paying) centers share staff and tasks, saving time, money and energy
- A multi-site ECE organization think strategically about centralizing and streamlining the tasks and roles needed in all sites
- A network of family child care homes boost both revenues and quality
What is a Shared Services Alliance?
A Shared Services Alliance is a an organization comprised of multiple center- or home-based ECE programs (members) that have agreed to share specific costs and resources via a collaborative governance structure. The design of each Shared Services Alliance is unique to its participants, but all share the goal of strengthening business and pedagogical leadership across participating sites, by creating structures that enable sharing of staff, information and resources.
What is an Alliance Hub?
An Alliance Hub is an entity that provides one or more Shared Services to the Alliance members. The Hub could be a large center, another type of organization such as a Resource and Referral agency, or a central administrative office. Alliance Hubs generally charge membership or contract fees, and/or receive grant support, for providing these services. Alliance Hubs offer a range of services and purchasing options to their members, such as:
- Bookkeeping, Billing and Fee Collection
- Marketing and Enrollment Management
- Shared In-person Professional Development
- Shared Administrative Staff
- Shared Quality Support Staff — mentor teachers, QRIS supports, etc.
- Fundraising and Fund Development
- Staff Recruitment and Substitute Pool
- Janitorial and Maintenance Services
- Joint Purchasing
The process of starting a Shared Services Alliance can seem daunting. Potential Alliances often ask: What should I do first? How long does it take? Who should get involved? While every group and every community is different, the work to develop an Alliance usually involves the following steps :
- Understand the needs of local Early Care and Education (ECE) providers.
- Identify one or more organizations that could provide some or all of the needed services as a Shared Services Hub.
- Identify interested and likely Alliance members.
- Identify the services to be provided by the Hub(s).
- Identify key areas of agreement that will need to be addressed in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Hub(s) and Members.
- Develop an Alliance business plan and financial projections.
- Identify funders to support Alliance startup and ongoing operating expenses until the Alliance achieves sustainability.
Learn more about the work involved in each of these steps with the Shared Services Startup Kit.
Take a look at profiles of different Alliances at work across the country by going to Alliances in Action: On the Ground.
Discover the variety of tools and resources available to help you explore and form an Alliance at Shared Services Central.