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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Rhode Island

Understand the different types of childcare grants in Rhode Island and learn tips to secure the funding needed to take your childcare program to the next level.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Rhode Island

Navigating Childcare Grants in Rhode Island

Childcare providers play an essential role in the development and well-being of children. However, running a childcare business involves significant costs, from staff salaries to facility maintenance and educational materials. Fortunately, there are numerous grants available to support childcare providers in Rhode Island.

In this article, we explore different types of grants, including financial assistance from government agencies, financial support for professional development, and funding from private foundations.

What is a grant?

Grants are funds provided by government agencies, private organizations, or foundations to support specific projects or activities. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid, making them an attractive option for childcare providers looking for financial assistance. Grants can cover a wide range of needs, including operational costs, facility improvements, staff training, and more.

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 Rhode Island

Rhode Island offers several resources and grants specifically designed to support childcare providers. In the sections below, we outline some of the key options available to Rhode Island childcare providers.

Grants and resources from government agencies

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

Rhode Island Department of Human Services

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services offers several resources to support providers in running a high-quality program:

  • BrightStars: BrightStars is Rhode Island's quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) for childcare providers, designed to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in childcare programs. Participating providers receive support to promote their program including marketing materials and professional development opportunities.
  • Starting Right Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP): The Starting Right CCAP provides subsidies to eligible low-income families to help cover the cost of child care. Childcare providers can receive payments directly through this program.
  • Child Care Health Consultation: This program offered by DHS and Meeting Street supports early childhood education providers and families with health, safety, wellness, development, and nutrition guidelines. It offers customer service on public health and licensing questions and delivers ongoing professional development and technical assistance to maintain a healthy environment in group-based care.

Rhode Island Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund (RICCELFF)

The Rhode Island Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund is a pivotal resource aimed at enhancing the quality and safety of childcare environments across the state. Managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), this fund provides financial assistance for a wide range of facility improvements, from minor renovations to major construction projects. 

Funding programs include Facility Pre-Development and Planning Grants that can be used for professional services such as architectural services, landscape/playground design, and engineering studies to plan for and assess the feasibility of indoor and outdoor facility projects, and Recoverable Grants ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 to support pre-development costs for expanding childcare programs for low-income families, functioning like zero-interest loans with varying amounts based on project needs and repayment plans.

Two women talking at staff meetingSource

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is essential for maintaining high-quality early education. Here are the top resources in Rhode Island:

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood RI

The T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood® program provides scholarships to early childhood educators pursuing associate or bachelor's degrees in early childhood education. This grant covers tuition costs, books, and other educational materials.

Rhode Island Early Childhood Education and Training Program

The Rhode Island Early Childhood Education and Training Program (RIECETP), operated by DHS in partnership with the Community College of Rhode Island, supports early childhood educators in gaining essential knowledge and skills. It offers comprehensive education and training through formal coursework and a cohort model. 

RIECETP provides two pathways: a nationally recognized Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and a four-course sequence for earning up to 12 college credits in early childhood education.

Grants from private foundations

In addition to government support, private foundations play a crucial role in enhancing the quality of childcare services in Rhode Island. Leveraging these types of grants can have a significant impact on your business.

The Champlin Foundation

The Champlin Foundation provides capital grants for nonprofit organizations, including early education programs, for facility improvements, equipment purchases, and program support.

Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation

Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation distributes grants in four focus areas (human needs, environmental stewardship, education, community vitality) to organizations within geographic areas where Dominion Energy provides electricity or natural gas service, including Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Foundation

The Rhode Island Foundation offers a variety of grant opportunities, each with its own purpose, application requirements, and deadlines, supporting various causes that meet the needs of local families throughout the state of Rhode Island.

Van Beuren Charitable Foundation

The Van Beuren Charitable Foundation focuses on enhancing the quality of life in Aquidneck Island and Newport County, including support for early childhood education and childcare 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 Rhode Island. 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 Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island. 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

Applying for childcare grants in Rhode Island can have a significant impact on your childcare program. With various financial assistance options available—from government agencies to private foundations—there's ample opportunity to enhance your services and support the families you serve.


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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