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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Kentucky

Navigating the world of grants can be daunting, but the rewards can be positive for your childcare business. Learn how to leverage childcare grants in Kentucky and enhance your program.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Kentucky

Navigating Childcare Grants in Kentucky

The role of childcare providers is essential, yet often the sector is strained financially, leading to challenges in quality delivery and operation sustainability. In Kentucky, this is no different. But amidst the various financial aid programs available, grants can provide a big support to childcare providers.

This article explores different funding resources in Kentucky, including grants from government agencies and private foundations, as well as tips to navigate the application process. 

What is a grant?

Grants are an often underutilized source of funding that can help support providers through turbulent economic times. A grant is a sum of money given by an organization, especially a government, for a particular purpose. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid, making them an attractive avenue for funding. They can support a breadth of endeavors, from childcare operations to educational enhancements for staff members.

Grants often hinge on specific criteria, requiring providers to conduct thorough research before applying. The application process itself can be rigorous, demanding detailed narratives and financial data. Yet, the potential rewards in bolstering financial security and program development are more than worth the effort.

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 grants in Kentucky

Kentucky offers an array of grants tailor-made for childcare providers. Below are some of the key grants offered to childcare providers.

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is the lead state agency that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) in Kentucky. 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.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services

The Department for Community Based Services (DCBS), Division of Child Care (DCC) offers various resources to support and improve child care throughout the state: 

  • Family Child Care (FCC) provider grant: The Department for Community Based Services and the DCC is offering a limited number of one-time grants, up to $5,000, to assist new providers in paying fees and purchasing items needed to open a regulated Family Child Care Home. 
  • Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP): This program provides financial assistance to eligible low-income families, aiding them in accessing quality childcare services. For providers, participating in CCAP can lead to additional funding opportunities to support operational costs and improve service quality.
  • KY All STARS: KY All STARS is Kentucky’s expanded quality rating and improvement system (QRIS), representing a statewide commitment to enhance the quality of childcare providers. By participating, providers qualify for initial achievement and annual quality monetary incentives as well as subsidy enrollment awards.

Kentucky providers: Click here to get brightwheel for free!


Professional development support

The Kentucky Division of Child Care offers numerous professional development programs to early childhood educators in the state, ensuring that providers have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the field. Some examples include:

The Non-College Scholarship Program

This scholarship program offers $420 to pay for 120 clock hours of training for individuals working towards their commonwealth child care credential (CCCC) or the child development associate (CDA) credential. 


This mini grant is intended for individuals training for their child development associate (CDA) credential and pays the $425 direct assessment fee to the Council for Professional Recognition. 

Child Care Aware of Kentucky

Child Care Aware of Kentucky is Kentucky’s Child Care Resource and Referral Network, providing various training, coaching, business resources, technical assistance, and online learning opportunities to childcare providers. 

Grants from private foundations

While government agencies provide a robust foundation for financial and programmatic support, private foundations in Kentucky also play a significant role in advancing the quality and accessibility of childcare services. 

Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky

Focused on community development within the Appalachian region, this foundation supports projects that include childcare initiatives. Grants may be available for program development, capacity building, or specific projects that address the unique needs of children and families in Appalachian communities.

Community Foundation of Louisville

The Community Foundation of Louisville is another vital source of support for childcare providers in Kentucky, offering grants that focus on community betterment, including enriching early childhood education. Their Sparking Change Mini Grant program awards three $1,000 grants each month to nonprofit organizations with operating budgets under $250,000.

The Gheens Foundation

Based in Louisville, KY, the Gheens Foundation prioritizes education among its philanthropic efforts, including early childhood education. Childcare providers may find grants that support educational programming, facility enhancements, or professional development for educators.

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 Kentucky 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.

Preschool teacher sitting with four children at a table playing with colorful blocks.Source

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 Kentucky. 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 Kentucky 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 Kentucky. 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

In Kentucky, grants are an essential tool for childcare providers to steer their centers towards success. From financial assistance to professional development support, the state offers a wealth of resources to aid in your grant-seeking journey.


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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