Workforce & Social Policy Case studies

Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) Assessment of Sponsor Tiering Determination

United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service

Contract Value: $383,573.86

The CACFP provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks served in family day care homes, child care centers, and other participating facilities and programs. Optimal conducted an assessment that provides for 2014 estimates of the number of FDCH misclassified by sponsoring agencies into the wrong tier, and the resulting erroneous payments for meals and snacks reimbursed at the incorrect rate. Optimal collected and analyzed data from State agencies and sponsors. State agencies provided the lists of sponsors and their FDCHs, which was used for the sampling, as well as provided schools’ free or reduced-price (F/RP) percentages for the purpose of determining FDCH’s eligibility. The Sponsors provided lists of their homes for the sampling, detailed meal counts for each sampled homes, and verification documents for the homes that  could not be independently verified by Optimal. The client indicates solid performance but the

CPARS has not been completed.

Evaluation of Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Participant Characteristics

United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service

Contract Value: $1,308,488.00

This study is evaluating the current operations of the USDA’s SFSP. The program supports children’s nutrition through reimbursements to participating institutions for meals meeting USDA dietary guidelines[1] to ensure that children who benefit from the NSLP and the SBP do not experience a nutrition gap during the summer. Optimal is conducting a process evaluation using a mixed methods approach consisting of web surveys and telephone calls to collect data on all 53 States participating in SFSP, as well as large, nationally representative samples of sponsors, and sites, augmented by qualitative data collection via one-on-one interviews with parents/caregivers of SFSP participants and non-participants. The data collection also involved States administrative data on characteristics and program outcomes for the sponsors and sites, and FNS administrative data on SFSP, NSLP, and SBP participation over time. The client indicates solid performance but the CPARS has not been completed.

Healthy Marriage/ Responsible Fatherhood Program

HOC, Contract Value: $201,600.00

Optimal Solutions Group, LLC (Optimal) provides support to the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County (HOCMC), Maryland with the rigorous performance measures and data quality assurance of the Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood program funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  Through intensive case management, counseling and mentoring, educational workshops and vocational training, the HOCMC Fatherhood Initiative reinforces parenting skills and advance child well-being, while simultaneously empowering fathers and mothers to improve their economic self-sufficiency and successfully address related issues and limitations that may affect father child and/or family relationships. This program is made possible by a multi-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Office of Family Assistance New Pathways for Fathers and Families-Healthy Marriage/Responsible Fatherhood program. Optimal works closely with HOCMC to provide continuous quality improvement to meet the stated goals of the Fatherhood program.

Innovative Economics Support services

Small Business Administration

In accordance with the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) Innovative Economies Support Services (IESS) contract, Optimal Solutions Group, LLC (Optimal) is responsible for fulfilling the following contract objectives:


  • Analyzing seven Innovative Economies (IE) awardees and supporting SBA in identifying best practices for small-business integration and support.
  • Analyzing a total of 20 Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge (JIAC) awardees.
  • Developing a program-evaluation framework and metrics for the JIAC.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the IE and JIAC awardees.
  • Providing technical assistance, business training, and business counseling to the IE and JIAC awardees.
  • Communicating with the IE and JIAC cluster administrators.


Optimal is identifying and evaluating best practices to ensure that the economic clusters can create sustainable job growth, compete on national and global scales, and attract continuing business investment.


Ford Foundation for Low-Skilled Workers

Ford Foundation, Contract Value: $ 200,000

Optimal Solutions Group (Optimal) was awarded a grant by the Ford Foundation’s Economic Development Unit to identify locally-based employment clusters that would be viable options for low-skill workers. Optimal based its research methodology on a recent report by Jobs for the Future (JFF), who attempted to define nationally-relevant job clusters for these low-skilled workers using a model based primarily on Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. While JFF’s study produced six potentially viable employment clusters, these clusters were not necessarily good choices throughout the country. Optimal researchers hypothesized that a model tailored to specific metropolitan area conditions (i.e., industrial-occupation mix, labor market conditions) could prove to be more useful to business leaders and policy makers as they seek to identify and build occupational clusters that will provide sustainable, living wage jobs to low-skilled workers.

[1] Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, Sections 9, 13 and 14, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 1758, 1761 and 1762a.