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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in North Dakota

Childcare grants in North Dakota can significantly alleviate financial burdens and provide the resources you need to offer high-quality childcare services.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in North Dakota

Navigating Childcare Grants in North Dakota

As a small business owner, particularly in the childcare sector, financial constraints are a common challenge. Securing the right funding can significantly impact your business, allowing you to improve your facilities, staff training, and overall quality of service.

In this article, we explore the world of childcare grants in North Dakota. We'll cover various funding sources, from government grants to private foundations, and provide valuable tips to help you navigate the application process.

What is a grant?

Grants are non-repayable funds provided by governments, foundations, or corporations to support specific projects or initiatives. In the context of childcare providers, grants can be used for a variety of purposes, including facility upgrades, educational programs, and staff training. Unlike loans, grants do not require repayment, making them an attractive option for many providers.

Obtaining a grant typically involves an application process where you must outline your needs and how the funds will be used. It's essential to understand the specific requirements and criteria for each grant to increase your chances of success.

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 helping student in math class.Source

Childcare grants in North Dakota

In North Dakota, several grants and programs are tailored specifically for childcare providers. These resources aim to support the development and sustainability of childcare services across the state, ensuring that providers can offer safe, nurturing, and educational environments for children.

Grants and resources from government agencies

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

North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services

The North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services has a variety of grants available to childcare programs to increase the quality, affordability, and availability of child care in the state. Below is more information on available grants: 

    • QRIS Quality Improvement Grant: Quality Improvement grants are available annually to licensed early childhood programs in North Dakota to support quality investments. These grants can be used for purchasing materials, curriculum costs, and professional development.
    • Grow Child Care Grant: The Grow Child Care grant supports childcare providers in specific counties who are either newly licensed or expanding their capacity by 50%, particularly increasing space for infants and toddlers. 
    • Inclusive Care Support Grant: This grant helps early childhood programs create and sustain environments where children with disabilities or developmental delays can thrive alongside their peers. To qualify, programs must care for such children and collaborate with a USpireND Inclusion Coach.
  • ND Best In Class Competitive Award: This award is designed to recognize and support the highest performing childcare providers in North Dakota. It is a competitive grant that rewards providers demonstrating exceptional quality in their services. Winners of the ND Best in Class award receive funding that can be used for expenses related to staffing, training, equipment, and supplies.

In addition, the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) provides subsidies to low-income families, ensuring that more children have access to high-quality care. Providers participating in CCAP receive consistent direct payments for their services, which can stabilize their income and contribute to the sustainability of their operations.

North Dakota also offers various incentives and stipends aimed at supporting early childhood professionals. These financial aids are designed to attract and retain highly qualified staff in the childcare sector. They may include sign-on bonuses, tuition assistance for continuing education, and stipends for completing professional development milestones. 

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is essential for maintaining high-quality early education. North Dakota offers several resources aimed at enhancing the skills and qualifications of childcare providers. Here are some noteworthy options:

Child Care Aware of North Dakota

This organization plays a vital role in supporting childcare providers by offering a range of professional development resources, including scholarships for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential

Growing Futures

Growing Futures is North Dakota’s professional development registry for early childhood educators. It serves as a comprehensive resource for tracking training, certifications, and career progression. 

Grants from private foundations

Exploring grants from private foundations can open up additional funding opportunities for your childcare business. Each foundation has its own focus areas and application processes, so it's essential to research and align your needs with their priorities.

Alex Stern Family Foundation

The Alex Stern Family Foundation provides grants supporting the arts, human services, education, youth recreation, civic projects, and health issues in the greater Fargo-Moorhead area. 

Bush Foundation

The Bush Foundation focuses on helping communities solve problems in creative and impactful ways. They support individuals and organizations located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations in the same geographic area. 

The O.P. and W.E. Edwards Foundation

The foundation aims to enhance the quality of life for children and their families with an emphasis on early childhood care and education. Their geographic focus generally includes Montana, Wyoming, Vermont, Idaho, and the Dakotas.

Otto Bremer Trust

The Otto Bremer Trust offers funding for projects that enhance community well-being in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The Tom and Frances Leach Foundation

The foundation supports nonprofit organizations in the fields of education, health and science, human services, and the arts located in the Bismarck-Mandan area and Western North Dakota.

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 North Dakota. 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 North Dakota 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 North Dakota. 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

Childcare grants in North Dakota offer transformative benefits by providing essential financial support to enhance facilities, invest in staff development, and improve service quality. By leveraging these funding opportunities, you can unlock new growth potential and ensure a brighter, more sustainable future for your business.


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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