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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Delaware

Learn how childcare grants in Delaware benefit providers, enhancing the accessibility and quality of childcare programs in the state.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Delaware

Navigating Childcare Grants in Delaware

When it comes to child care, there is high demand for quality care and easy access. For providers in Delaware, figuring out how to get financial help, upgrade facilities, and improve your skills is key to not just keeping the lights on, but also making your services better for families.

In this article, we'll discuss childcare grants designed explicitly for childcare providers in the state, ensuring that you have the necessary resources to thrive and make a significant impact in your community.

What is a grant?

At its core, a grant is a financial award given by an entity, typically a government department, corporation, or foundation, to an eligible grantee. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid, making them highly sought after for operational support, special projects, or expansion efforts. For childcare providers, grants can offer a lifeline for improving facilities, undertaking professional development, or paying your staff.

The U.S. government’s second and final funding package for fiscal year 2024 includes a $1 billion increase for programs focused on child care and early childhood education¹. This new funding includes an additional $275 million for the Head Start program and $725 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant which funds state efforts to provide child care to families and improve the quality of care. 

Download a free grant writing guide for childcare programs here!

Teacher reading to a preschool class.Source

Childcare grants in Delaware

The state of Delaware recognizes the foundational role of childcare providers in the development of young minds and the support of the local workforce. Several government agencies and private foundations offer financial assistance grants to help providers cover operational costs and increase capacity to serve more families. 

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) is the lead state agency that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) in Delaware. This funding can be in the form of certificates, grants, or contracts to provide childcare services to low-income families or improve the quality of care provided.

Delaware Department of Health and Social Services

The Division of Social Services (DSS) has various programs and resources for those wishing to start a childcare business or improve an existing program:

  • Delaware Stars for Early Success: This quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) is aimed at enhancing the quality of early childhood education. The program offers financial incentives and tiered reimbursement funds based on a provider's commitment to professional development, program quality improvement, and national accreditation.
  • Purchase of Care (POC): This vital program assists eligible childcare providers in Delaware by subsidizing the cost of care for families in need. Through POC, providers receive direct payments from the state, allowing them to support and expand their services to a broader range of families.

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is crucial for maintaining quality in early childhood education. In Delaware, providers can access the below options for further training and education resources:

Children and Families First

This state-wide agency provides resources and assistance to childcare providers aiming to enhance their service quality. 

Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (CCR&R)

The CCR&R network connects childcare professionals and families with the resources, training, and support needed to enhance the quality and availability of childcare services across Delaware.

My Child DE

This innovative online resource is designed to connect childcare providers with families in Delaware. This platform allows providers to showcase their services and availability, making it easier for parents to find quality childcare options that meet their needs. 

Grants from private foundations

Engaging with private foundations can open doors to unique funding opportunities tailored to enhancing childcare services. Here are some notable private foundations in Delaware that offer grants to childcare providers:

The Delaware Community Foundation

This foundation builds partnerships and leverages resources to invest in areas critical to Delaware’s future, including children’s welfare and education.

The Longwood Foundation

The Longwood Foundation primarily supports the efforts of organizations within Delaware and the Kennett Square area that improve the quality of life in those communities.

The PNC Foundation

Through its Grow Up Great initiative, the PNC Foundation supports early childhood education efforts, offering grants to providers for curriculum development, teacher training, and classroom resources in Delaware and beyond.

Welfare Foundation

The Welfare Foundation provides financial support to nonprofit organizations in Delaware and Southern Chester County, Pennsylvania, with a strong interest in projects that have a significant impact on health, welfare, and education.

Federal grants and funding opportunities

The federal government offers a variety of grants and funding opportunities to support childcare providers across the United States, including Delaware. These grants are designed to improve access to quality childcare, support the professional development of childcare workers, and enhance the learning environments for children under their care. Some key federal funding sources include:

U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) offers discretionary grants that are awarded using a competitive process, as well as student loans or grants to attend college, and formula grants determined by Congress. Here are some helpful resources to explore:

  • ED grants homepage: The ED grants homepage allows you to browse funding opportunities, links to grant applications, and your eligibility status.
  • The website is the central location that provides information on grants across the federal government. You can search for and apply to different funding opportunities, determine your eligibility, and access grant writing tips. 
  • Head Start and Early Head Start Programs: Aimed at promoting school readiness for children under five from low-income families, these programs provide grants directly to public and private non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive child development services. The Office of Head Start (OHS) posts notices of funding opportunities (NOFOs) that seek applications for grand funds. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) manages various financial assistance programs for rural applications. One example is the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program that provides funds to be used to purchase, construct and/or improve essential community facilities like childcare centers, purchase equipment, and pay related project expenses in rural areas with no more than 20,000 residents.

Applying for grants

Applying for childcare grants in Delaware can be a competitive process, as funding is often limited. To increase your chances of receiving a grant, it’s essential to carefully review and follow all application guidelines and requirements. Here are some general steps to take when applying for childcare grants:

  • Meet all licensing requirements: Ensure that your program meets all of the licensing requirements in Delaware. Maintaining licensing compliance shows a commitment to high-quality standards and is often also required for you to be eligible for specific grants and funding opportunities.
  • Do your research and determine your eligibility: Research available grants and determine which ones align with your needs and goals. Before applying, check to see that you meet all the necessary criteria. Most (but not all) government grants are aimed at 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, so be sure to read the eligibility requirements carefully.
  • Gather your documentation: Most grant applications will ask for specific documentation, such as financial statements, demographic information, licenses, and certifications. Be sure to have these prepared in advance. With brightwheel you can quickly and easily access custom reporting to meet your specific needs.
  • Write a compelling grant proposal: Read successful grant applications to learn how to structure your approach. Include an executive summary of your project and clearly define the need or problem your childcare services address. Provide a detailed description of your program and list your objectives and expected outcomes. Follow all grant application instructions, have someone else review your proposal before submitting, and submit your application on time. 

Download a free grant writing guide for childcare programs here!


Additional tips for success

Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when applying for grants for your childcare center:

  • Stay informed: Connect and engage with local and state organizations focused on early childhood education. If possible, join their email lists or follow their social media pages, as these organizations will often share grant and funding information as it becomes available. Also, regularly check the websites of federal agencies to stay informed on available grants or programs. 
  • Create a budget: A comprehensive childcare center budget will highlight the financial needs and priorities of your program and give funders a clear understanding of how a grant will be utilized. With a clear picture of your program’s finances, you can also maximize the impact of any funding that is received.
  • Plan a fundraiser: Hosting a fundraising event can raise necessary funds for your program. Have a bake sale, organize a silent auction, or host a trivia night. 
  • Hire a grant proposal writer: If your budget allows, consider hiring a grant proposal writer. A grant proposal writer can craft a compelling narrative about your program and navigate the complexities of the grant application process for you.

Final thoughts

Delaware offers a robust array of grant opportunities for childcare providers, ranging from government initiatives to private foundation support. Whether you're looking to enhance your facility or invest in professional development, there's likely a funding source that aligns with your needs. With the right approach and resources, you can access the support needed to elevate the standard of care and education at your program.


1. “Former Preschool Teacher Patty Murray Delivers $1 Billion More to Help Families Find and Afford Child Care & Pre-K”, United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, 03/21/2024.

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