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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Florida

Discover how childcare grants in Florida can support and grow your childcare business, making quality care accessible to more families.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Florida

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Florida

Florida childcare providers, like any small business, often face the challenging juggle of economic sustainability and providing quality service. Fortunately, there are a variety of grants and financial assistance available in the state to ease the financial pressures.

Small business owners, specifically childcare providers, play an integral part in the early development of children. To support them, Florida allocates funds to various types of grants designed to bolster the sector. 

In this article, we provide more information on the grants and financial assistance available to childcare providers in Florida and tips for applying to receive this crucial funding.

What is a grant?

Before we jump into the specifics, it's essential to understand the concept of a grant. A grant is a financial award typically given by the government, a foundation, a trust, or a corporation for an array of purposes. In the context of childcare providers, these grants could be used for things like start-up costs, facility improvements, or investing in the development of children.

Grants differ from loans in that they do not require repayment. Rather, they are issued with the expectation that the recipient will use the funds for the outlined purpose, often with specific reporting requirements.

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!

Childcare worker seated on the floor with an infant in her lap. There are three other infants sitting next to her.Source

Childcare grants in Florida

The state of Florida is committed to early childhood education and provides a range of opportunities for financial assistance to childcare providers. These resources are meant to reduce financial burdens and ensure that every child has access to a high-quality educational setting.

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Florida Department of Education, Division of Early Learning (DEL) is the lead state agency in Florida that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). 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.

The School Readiness (SR) Program

Aimed at preparing children for academic success, Florida’s School Readiness (SR) program offers financial assistance to help low-income families pay for early education and care. This program is funded primarily by the federal Child Care and Development Fund Block Grant. 

Providers participating in this program can receive subsidies for each eligible child, thereby stabilizing their income and facilitating improvements in care quality and educational offerings.

Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK)

Started in 2005, the VPK program was established to offer all families high-quality, state-funded prekindergarten education, thus providing childcare providers a unique opportunity to attract more families and increase enrollment. 

This program benefits providers by not only increasing enrollment but also by enhancing their service offerings with a curriculum that prepares children for kindergarten and beyond. Participation in the VPK program can elevate a provider's reputation, demonstrating a commitment to educational excellence in the early years.

The Children’s Trust

Dedicated to enriching the lives of children in Miami-Dade county, the Children’s Trust is a government agency that provides funding for programs that promote health, safety, and early education. Childcare providers can apply for grants to support initiatives that improve educational outcomes and prepare children for academic success.

Professional development support

The Division of Early Learning (DEL) offers professional learning and training opportunities for early childhood education professionals. Some examples include:

Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&R) 

Florida’s Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&R) program offers support to new childcare programs starting home-based or center-based programs in their communities. The network also connects providers with professional development resources at the local, state, and national level. 

Early Childhood Educator Incentive$ Florida

This program offers financial incentives to early childhood educators in an effort to attract and retain high-quality staff within the childcare sector. Recognizing the importance of qualified educators in the development of young children, the program provides bonuses and other monetary incentives based on various criteria, including education level, certifications, and years of service in early childhood education. This initiative not only boosts the morale of childcare professionals but also seeks to enhance the overall quality of early learning environments across the state.

T.E.A.C.H. Florida Scholarship Program

Florida’s Teacher Education and Compensation Helps (T.E.A.C.H.) scholarship program provides direct scholarships to early childhood caregivers and center directors. With a goal of strengthening the childcare workforce, scholarships can apply toward a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, and a director’s credential. 

Florida Early Childhood Professional Development Registry

This registry allows early learning professionals in Florida to track their training and certifications. It offers a system to help practitioners assess their qualifications, identify educational resources, and plan their career pathways in early childhood education.

Grants from private foundations

In addition to government agencies, private foundations in Florida play a vital role in supporting childcare providers through grant programs. These foundations often focus on community development, educational excellence, and supporting underserved populations. Below are key private foundations providing childcare grants in the Sunshine State:

The Selby Foundation

The Selby Foundation specializes in capital grants for construction, acquisition, and renovation of facilities, and purchase of equipment or software, focusing on education, human services, arts, and community projects to organizations located in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee or Sarasota counties.

Peacock Foundation, Inc.

The Miami-based Peacock Foundation, Inc. focuses on improving the lives of children and families in South Florida. It offers support through contributions, gifts, and grants to special projects and general operations for programs focused on children and youth, the elderly, art and environmental education, health, and medical research.

The Jim Moran Foundation

Established by automotive pioneer Jim Moran, this foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for the youth and families of Florida. One of their current funding focuses is on education programs that provide academic enrichment and opportunities for quality learning. 

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 Florida and beyond.

The Duke Energy Foundation

Although broader in scope, the Duke Energy Foundation considers grants for educational programs, including those related to early childhood development and STEM, in areas served by Duke Energy.

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 Florida. 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 Florida 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 Florida. 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

For childcare providers in Florida, the availability of grants signifies recognition of the essential role they play in the community and the overall development of children.

By understanding the spectrum of resources available and diligently preparing a compelling application, providers can not only secure the financial assistance they need but also significantly improve the quality of their service.


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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