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Here are some of the questions that have come up as we have discussed implementing this
television and radio campaign with nearly 100 sponsors nationwide

Q. How will this campaign help us grow our program?

A. The Soho Center's three highly-produced commercials are designed to get providers (and, to a certain extent, parents) to pick up the phone and find out about a wonderful program - the CACFP.  If you're a participating sponsor and are running these commercials in your area, we'll fax you callers' names and phone numbers every few days so you can follow up and encourage as many providers as possible to join your program.

When you call them, you can choose to emphasize children's nutrition, nutrition education, the link with quality child care, and/or how the reimbursements participating providers get each month can help (feed children well, help them stay in business, etc.).  In other words, you get to deliver your message about the benefits of the CACFP in your way to each caller.

Q. Should sponsors use television and radio to target providers?

A. Definitely.  Providers are your primary audience, and reaching them is the only way to make your program grow.   It's providers who ultimately have to show some interest in finding out more.  It's providers who need to know about your organization and how you can help them.  And it's providers who need to be told why it's worth getting licensed/regulated and the value of the Food Program.  But none of this will happen unless providers call.  That's why our commercials target primarily providers.

Q. Should sponsors use television and radio to target parents?

A. Sure; good PR and public awareness of the CACFP is always desirable, and our commercials include parents in their target audience.  However, our experience in several states shows that while a certain number of parents do call, the overwhelming majority of callers are providers.  If you want to grow your program, targeting primarily providers remains the very best way to do it. 

Q.  Don't most providers already know about the Food Program?

A.  No.  While many licensed/regulated providers participate in the CACFP, they represent a small percentage of all providers nationally.  There are huge numbers of unregulated providers who have never heard of the Food Program.  And most new providers entering the field have never heard of the CACFP. 

Until more providers know about the CACFP, there's little incentive for many of them to get regulated.  Television and radio are an ideal broad-scale way to get the word out.  And our commercials do that in an appealing and non-threatening manner - while encouraging them to call and find out more.

Q. What if there's another tv or radio campaign available to us?

A. Make sure the other campaign will really generate calls!  Ask for hard data about how many parents and providers actually called in response to anyone else's tv or radio campaign.  The Soho Center's tv and radio campaign WORKS!  Compare our numbers with theirs. 

For example, the Soho Center's three commercials were placed as PSAs (unpaid tv time) in Oregon and generated  over 450  calls for the sponsor who used them!  This helped the sponsor grow their program.  Along with "public awareness," the Soho Center's tv and radio spots deliver real providers.

Q.  Do the commercials mention Soho Center?

A.  No, this campaign isn't about promoting the Soho Center.    In fact, as far as the caller is concerned, these commercials are your commercials.  We're completely "invisible."  Nowhere on the commercials is there any mention of the Soho Center.  And when people call our 800-number (1-800-A1-KIDS-1), we don't say Soho Center either. 

We simply thank each person for calling and then get basic information from each caller (name, where they live, phone number, and whether they're a parent or provider).  We enter this information into a database and fax it to participating sponsors each week for them to follow up.

Q.  Why is the Soho Center doing this?

  A.  We want to help a lot of kids and the child care field.  This campaign is a real good way to do that. 

We're a non-profit with a 30 year track record of successfully developing and supporting quality child care programs and services.  Over the past decade, we have received major foundation funding to develop a variety of strategies and materials to improve the quality of child care for large numbers of kids, to reach out to low-income and rural providers,  and to promote the Food Program in cost-effective ways. 

One thing we did was use our funding to produce the well-reviewed Business of Family Child Care video featuring Tom Copeland formerly of Redleaf Press.  We gave away hundreds of copies of this 25-minute video and then donated it to Redleaf to sell in support of their efforts. (This video is now available directly from the Soho Center.)

Another thing we did was to work with an award-winning team to develop several high-quality commercials to publicize the Food Program.  We field-tested them in several states and worked out a cost-effective 800-number and intake system.  Now we're making these highly-produced spots available to sponsors across the nation.  The simple truth is that you can use these comercials to grow your program.

In case you're wondering, we know the Food Program and the challenges of doing outreach and recruitment.  We were the fastest-growing CACFP sponsor in our state until we voluntarily stopped being a sponsor in order to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest when we received 3 large grants from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. 

To find out more, our web site includes sections about our 30 years of developing quality children's programs, our foundation and corporate supporters, reviews of the commercials and the video, and details about this campaign.

Q.  Can more than one sponsor in a state use these commercials?

A.  Absolutely!  Our aim is to help as many sponsors as possible grow their programs - whether they have overlapping territories or not.  When possible, a state-wide campaign involving multiple sponsors is an ideal way to proceed.

Q.  Can just one sponsor run the campaign in a tv/radio market?

A.  That depends.  If a sponsor can serve at least 75% of the area that the tv/radio spots will reach, that sponsor can join and get all the names from the campaign.  (The sponsor will then refer callers they can't serve to other sponsors who can serve them - at no charge for the referral).

If a sponsor can't serve at least 75% of a particular tv/radio market, then the sponsor needs to get one or more other sponsors to also participate in the campaign before the campaign can go ahead in that area. (Once again, the small percentage of callers who can't be served by the participating sponsors will be referred to other sponsors at no charge.)

In this way, we ensure that every caller is served.

Whenever possible,  a state-wide campaign involving multiple sponsors is well worth considering.

Q.  How does it work when sponsors have "defined" or "non-overlapping" areas?

A. This is the easiest situation.  If two or more sponsors are needed to cover a tv/radio market, two or more sponsors need to join the campaign to ensure that all callers can be served.  Each sponsor then gets all the names and takes care of the providers in their food program area.

Q. What about where there are "competing sponsors?"

A. In areas where two or more "competing" sponsors participate, each "competing" sponsor will get all the names at the same time.  While following any applicable USDA guidelines, each sponsor can follow up all callers in their area or make arrangements with other participating sponsors as to which sponsor follows up which callers. 

Q. Why should "competing" sponsors cooperate?

A.  Simple; it's in everyone's interest to increase CACFP participation rates.  The more providers everyone has to follow up, the better.  Instead of "fighting" over the same 2 or 20 names, this campaign can help surface 200 or 2,000 names of potential providers for "competing" sponsors. The result?  You can get more total providers on your program (and a larger administrative budget for your agency).  And more providers and kids get the benefits of the Food Program.

You can count on us to be fair.  We'll fax each participating sponsor in a tv/radio market the names of providers and parents at the same time.  Your staff can then call as many as you want (in areas your agency covers) to describe your organization, the Food Program, and how you can help them.

Q. What does it cost and how can we pay for it?

A.  The cost to participate in the campaign varies depending on the number of participating sponsors.  There are several ways for each participating sponsor to pay for it.  One way is to use some of your administrative budget, another is to secure some local/regional support for the effort, a third is to apply for a USDA Low Income or Rural Expansion Grant. 

Of the three options, we encourage you to apply for an Expansion Grant.  These grants are available nation-wide to sponsors and give a sponsor up to $9,500 in new funds for recruitment and outreach activities in low income and/or rural areas.  This means that you can cover the full cost of the campaign and still have some funds left to do traditional outreach activities, buy additional air time, and/or follow up the names that the campaign surfaces.

Q. Where can we find out more about Expansion Grants?

A. The best source is the newly-issued USDA regs published in the Federal Register, dated February 26, 1998.  As a service to sponsors, we have made the entire text of the current regulations available on our web site.  (Go back to the previous page.  Part way down on that page is a link to the complete text of the regs.) 

You can also give us a call at 540-923-5012 for a simple explanation of Expansion Grants.  We'll be happy to talk with you about this supplemental source of funding.  And, of course, your state CACFP administering agency should be able to give you this information; they are also the source for the actual application.

If you apply for an Expansion Grant and want to participate in this campaign, we'll help you fill in the grant application to accurately reflect the campaign elements. 

Q.  What will the Soho Center do for their share of the grant?

A. We will provide you with the rights to use our three highly-produced commercials for the duration of the agreed-upon campaign.  We'll give you advice about placing the commercials as PSAs in your area.  We'll give you VHS copies of the commercials to use in explaining the campaign to tv/radio stations.  We'll provide broadcast-quality tv and/or radio dubs that your broadcasters need to run the PSAs.  We'll set up the database sub-system for each participating sponsor.  We'll accept at our cost all the 800-number calls from your area.  We'll cover our staff costs to get and enter caller information into the database.  We'll fax caller information to you on a regular basis.  And we'll give you 100 copies of our Child/2000 National Child Care Resource Directory for you to use as provider incentives.

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