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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Indiana

Utilizing grant money can sustain and grow your childcare business. Explore available childcare grants in Indiana and how to secure funding.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Indiana

Navigating Childcare Grants in Indiana

Navigating the world of grants can be daunting. For those in the state of Indiana looking to enhance their childcare facilities, expand their professional development, or simply keep their doors open, the resources available can provide significant support. 

This article provides an in-depth look into various funding opportunities designed specifically for those in the childcare sector. From government initiatives to private foundations, we explore a range of grants that can help you enhance your facilities, invest in staff development, and expand your services to meet the needs of more families. 

What is a grant?

Grants are non-repayable funds or products disbursed or gifted by one party, often a government, corporation, or foundation, to a recipient, often a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business, or individual. They are typically awarded based on merit, need, or upon the request of the grantee.

In the world of childcare, grants can serve myriad purposes, from covering operational costs to promoting professional growth. Knowing where to look is key to navigating the grant process successfully.

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 and children learning music at daycare.Source

Childcare grants in Indiana

Indiana is committed to supporting the childcare sector, recognizing its vital role in the state's economy and its communities. Here are the types of grants that childcare providers in Indiana can access:

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration is the lead state agency that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) in Indiana. 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.

Indiana Family and Social Services Administration

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration oversees various financial assistance programs that childcare providers can take advantage of:

  • Free brightwheel subscription: In partnership with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Office of Early Childhood and Out of School Learning, all licensed childcare providers in Indiana are eligible to receive free access to brightwheel, the #1 childcare software.
  • On My Way Pre-K: The On My Way Pre-K initiative is a state-funded program that provides grants to low income families to pay for child care, reducing the financial burden on childcare providers.
  • Child Care Expansion Grants: This competitive grant opportunity provides funding for childcare providers looking to expand their capacity at their existing program or create a new program in an underserved area, with priority given to infant and toddler programs.
  • Paths to QUALITY™: The Indiana Paths to QUALITY™ program represents the state’s quality rating and improvement system for childcare services. By participating in this program, providers are guided through four levels of quality standards. There are opportunities for grants and financial awards at different stages of the program, including higher reimbursement rates, cash awards, free marketing materials, scholarships, equipment, and learning materials.

Indiana providers: Click here to get brightwheel for free!

Brighter Futures Indiana

Brighter Futures Indiana offers a wealth of resources, support, and guidance aimed at enhancing the quality and availability of childcare services across the state. The Build, Learn, Grow program provides financial support and funding to childcare programs, professional development resources, and support for families accessing child care services.

Indiana Department of Workforce Development

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has prioritized child care by providing Employer Training Grant funds to employers who train, hire, and retain childcare workers. Employers will be reimbursed up to $5,000 per employee who is trained, hired, and retained for six months, up to $50,000 per employer. The Workforce Ready Grant will cover tuition and fees for individuals working toward early education certification programs, including the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. 

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is crucial for maintaining quality in early childhood education. There are various organizations in Indiana that enable affordable or free access to high-quality training and resources for the childcare workforce.

The Child Care Resource Network

The Child Care Resource Network equips childcare programs with training resources, licensing assistance, and connecting families to childcare providers. They also facilitate opportunities for home-based providers to network and share resources through their Family Child Care Network initiative.

Spark Learning Lab

Spark Learning Lab serves early childhood education programs across Indiana. This resource includes access to state-of-the-art professional development opportunities. Providers can partake in workshops, webinars, and coaching sessions designed to impart advanced pedagogical skills, management practices, and operational efficiencies. 

Students with teacher at preschoolSource

Grants from private foundations

Beyond state funding, private foundations dedicate resources to support childcare providers. In Indiana, there are several private foundations and organizations that offer financial assistance and grants. Some of these include:

Early Learning Indiana

A leader in the field, Early Learning Indiana offers various grants designed to help childcare providers expand high-quality early learning opportunities. The Early Years Initiative, supported by Lilly Endowment Inc., is a competitive grant opportunity for new or expanded programs serving children from birth through age three.

Lilly Endowment Inc.

This private philanthropic foundation supports community development, education, and religion, including initiatives that improve the quality and availability of childcare services in Indiana.

The Pacers Foundation

Focused on enriching and supporting the youth of Indiana, the Pacers Foundation occasionally provides grants to programs that include childcare services, emphasizing the well-being and development of children.

The United Way of Central Indiana

This organization provides support for early childhood education programs, including grants for childcare providers aimed at improving educational outcomes and support services for children and families.

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 Indiana 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 Indiana. 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 Indiana 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 Indiana. 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

Understanding and accessing grants for childcare providers in Indiana is a process that demands dedication and knowledge. By leveraging the different grants offered by the state or through private foundations, childcare providers can innovate, grow, and continue the essential work of nurturing and developing the next generation.


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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