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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Nebraska

Discover the essential information about childcare grants in Nebraska. Learn about available grants, eligibility requirements, and application tips to help you secure funding for your childcare business.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Nebraska

Navigating Childcare Grants in Nebraska

Operating a childcare business can be challenging, especially when it comes to securing funding to enhance your services. The costs associated with providing high-quality care, from hiring qualified staff to purchasing educational materials, can be substantial. Fortunately, there are numerous grants available to childcare providers in Nebraska that can help alleviate some of these financial burdens.

This guide will walk you through what a grant is, the resources available in Nebraska, and how to prepare to apply for these opportunities.

Children fingerpainting in art class in preschool.Source

What is a grant?

A grant is a financial award given by a government agency, foundation, or other organization to support a specific purpose, such as education, research, or community development. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid, making them an invaluable resource for various sectors.

For instance, childcare providers can utilize grants to improve their facilities with new equipment or renovations, provide professional development opportunities for their staff, or enhance their services through additional programs and activities that benefit children.

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 Nebraska

Nebraska offers various types of grants aimed at supporting childcare providers. These funds can come from government agencies, private foundations, or other organizations. Below, we break down the types of grants available to you.

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is the lead agency that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) in Nebraska. 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.

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

The Nebraska DHHS offers temporary and ongoing grants as well as one-time payment programs to childcare providers in the state to alleviate financial challenges and help them operate their businesses: 

  • Child Care Start-Up and Expansion Grant: This ongoing grant awards a maximum of $5,000 for child care homes and $10,000 for child care centers for new or expanding programs that are making minor building improvements or purchasing equipment. 
  • Emergency Mini Grant: This grant is for currently licensed programs or those in the licensing process and awards a maximum of $1,000 for provisional year licenses and $2,000 for operating licenses. 
  • Quality Improvement Grant: The funds from this grant must be used to pay for items related to improving the quality of the childcare program or curriculum. The maximum award amount is $500. 
  • Restoration Enhancement Program (REP) and Technology Access Program (TAP): The REP focuses on improving facilities, investing in new equipment, and enhancing child care quality through funding for equipment, maintenance repairs, fire alarm installations, and upgrading supplies. TAP promotes updated technology to improve child care quality and capacity, facilitating service delivery, personal security, and educational programs. 
  • Child Care Subsidy Program: This subsidy program helps families pay for child care. Participating providers can achieve higher enrollment, receive steady income flow from subsidized payments, and are eligible for specific childcare grants. 

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is essential for maintaining high-quality early education. Nebraska offers numerous grants specifically aimed at supporting the professional development of childcare workers. These grants can help cover the costs of training programs, certification courses, and other educational opportunities, ensuring that your staff remains knowledgeable, skilled, and motivated. 

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Nebraska Scholarships

T.E.A.C.H. scholarships offer financial assistance to cover the cost of tuition and books for early education professionals working towards a degree in early childhood education.

Child Development Associate Scholarship Project

This scholarship provides financial support to individuals in Nebraska pursuing the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. The scholarship covers the cost of the CDA assessment or renewal fees.

School Readiness Tax Credits

The School Readiness Tax Credits benefit both childcare programs and individual staff members. Childcare programs can receive tax credits for meeting quality standards, while staff members can earn credits based on their education and experience levels, supporting professional development in early childhood education.

Grants from private foundations

Private foundations play a crucial role in supporting childcare providers by offering financial assistance through various grants. Unlike public funding, grants from private foundations often come with more flexibility, allowing providers to tailor the use of funds to meet specific needs within their programs. 

Kearney Area Community Foundation

The Kearney Area Community Foundation supports nonprofit organizations in the Kearney area and surrounding communities with grants for capacity building, facility improvements, and program enhancements, aiming to uplift the community through targeted investments in early childhood education.

Omaha Community Foundation

The Omaha Community Foundation is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in Omaha and surrounding areas. They support a wide range of initiatives, including community development, education, healthcare, and the arts, by providing grants and resources to local nonprofits and community projects. 

Woods Charitable Fund

The Woods Charitable Fund provides grants to improve the quality of life in Lincoln, Nebraska, with a focus on supporting education, health and human services, civic and community engagement, and arts and culture programs.

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 Nebraska. 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 Nebraska 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 Nebraska. 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

Securing childcare grants in Nebraska can significantly impact your ability to provide quality childcare services. These grants can be used to upgrade your learning materials, improve the safety and accessibility of your center, and offer additional training for your staff. By understanding the resources available and preparing adequately, you can increase your chances of receiving funding.


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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