For many childcare businesses and preschools struggling financially, daycare grants can be welcome sources of supplemental funding. While the application process for grants can be time-consuming, the financial cushion from extra funding makes it well worth the effort. With patience and persistence (and a bit of paperwork), you can access funding from federal, state, local, and corporate sources to help bolster your center’s finances.
This guide will cover how to find and apply for government grants for your childcare center.
- Are loans or grants better for your childcare business
- How to find funding for your childcare program
- Tips for applying for a daycare grant
Are loans or grants better for your childcare business
In the simplest terms, loans require repayment and grants don’t. Both sources of funding can provide valuable financial relief for your business, whether you’re suffering a financial loss, expanding your business, or trying to keep the lights on.
Loans are administered by banks, credit unions, or online lenders, and they’re repaid with interest over a certain period.
Grants are given by government organizations, foundations, or corporations. While they don’t need to be repaid, there are usually stricter criteria for who can receive funding and how it can be spent. Grants are often only available for a certain period, and it can take longer to be approved and receive funding than it would with a loan.
How to find funding for your childcare program
Whether you’re looking to start a childcare program or expand an existing one, federal and state governments offer daycare grants for providers and families. Each state has a lead childcare agency responsible for subsidizing childcare programs. These agencies also provide information on available funds and how to apply.
Locate the lead agency in your state or use the list below:
District of Columbia: Division of Early Learning (D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education)
Massachusetts: Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care
North Dakota: North Dakota Department of Human Services
Oklahoma: Oklahoma Department of Human Services
There are also many local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies that offer information about childcare resources in the community as well as financial assistance, funding opportunities, and other business support to childcare providers. Visit the CCR&R search page to find the agency that serves your local area.
Local Head Start programs often collaborate with childcare centers to provide services and also offer various grants and funding opportunities. Contact the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center for more information.
Tips for applying for a daycare grant
Applying for a daycare grant can be more meticulous than applying for a loan. More guidelines often need to be met to receive additional funding.
When applying, you should:
- Do your research
- Speak to your audience
- Stick to the point
- Follow guidelines
Do your research
Daycare grant opportunities will rarely fall into your lap. It’s your responsibility to go looking for them. Ideas for researching grant options include:
- Talking to other providers in the area to find out if they know any charitable foundations, government bodies, or other grant sources you should contact
- Signing up for email updates and newsletters from the above sources and following their social media accounts for the latest information on available funds
- Setting up a Google alert to receive an email whenever the topic “daycare grants” shows up in Google searches
- Attending industry conferences like the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) annual conference and the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) conference to expand your network and build connections
- Contacting your local CCR&R agency for access to updated information on funding opportunities in your area
Not only will you have to do thorough research to find grants, it’s also important to understand where the financial resources are coming from and which organizations or individuals are providing the funding. Look for funders who align with your daycare’s mission and interests. This will require looking into their history, their annual reports, and recent grant information.
Speak to your audience
Be mindful that everyone you send a grant proposal to might not know the ins and outs of a daycare program. Always speak to your audience. Don’t use niche terms or acronyms. Ensure that they can understand your proposal and relate to the impact of your program.
Stick to the point
Grant funders don’t want to spend unnecessary time reading your proposal in an attempt to figure out your reason for applying. Be concise. Describe your program’s mission, goals, and reasons for funding in a short, detailed manner.
Your daycare grant application should stand out within the guidelines that are set by the funder. Make sure you’re in the right geographic area. Double-check that your business has the proper registrations and licensing. Confirm any funding inclusions. As for the most important guideline, make sure you stick to the dates and deadlines set for the proposal and additional paperwork.
When applying for grants, don’t be discouraged if you get denied. Your next step is to try again. Find out what your application is missing and figure out how you can improve it. This will set you up to create a better proposal each time you apply.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again
Childcare grants are an excellent source of funding for daycare programs. Unlike loans, this capital doesn’t require repayment; however, there could be stricter terms for which it can be used. With both federal and state options for government grants for child care, there are many funding opportunities. Just remember to do your research, follow the guidelines, and be persistent.