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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in South Dakota

Grants and financial support can make a significant difference for your childcare business. Explore the available childcare grants in South Dakota and top tips to apply for extra funding.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in South Dakota

Navigating Childcare Grants in South Dakota

Ensuring quality childcare is a vital service that benefits families and communities alike. For childcare providers in South Dakota, accessing grants can make a significant difference in maintaining and improving their programs.

This article guides you through the various grants available specifically for childcare providers in South Dakota. By the end, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of what grants are, the resources available in South Dakota, and how to prepare for applying.

What is a grant?

Grants are non-repayable funds provided by government agencies, private foundations, or other organizations to support specific programs or projects. In the context of childcare providers, grants can support various needs such as facility upgrades, professional development, and overall operational costs.

Receiving grants can significantly ease financial burdens, allowing providers to focus more on the quality of care they deliver.

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 South Dakota

South Dakota offers a variety of resources designed to support childcare providers in their goals to enhance and sustain their services. These resources include funding opportunities, training programs, and support networks tailored to meet the unique needs of providers in the state.

Grants and resources from government agencies

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

South Dakota Department of Social Services

The South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) offers several resources aimed at supporting childcare providers. Here are a few to consider:

  • Infant/Toddler Grant Opportunity: This grant aims to enhance infant and toddler care environments by funding high-quality items like indoor and outdoor equipment.
  • Child Care Assistance Program: This program provides financial support to low-income families, making childcare more affordable. By subsidizing a portion of the childcare costs, the program not only alleviates the financial strain on families but also ensures a steady income for childcare providers.
  • Behavioral Health Voucher Program for Child Care Providers: This voucher program offers free funding for up to eight mental health services to employees and employers of licensed child care providers, with vouchers available until August 1, 2024.

Professional development support

Continual professional development is key to providing high-quality childcare. There are several resources available in South Dakota to support ongoing education and training for childcare providers:

Early Childhood Workforce Support Scholarship

This scholarship program, funded by the South Dakota DSS, covers 100% of tuition, fees, books, laptops, and other items needed for coursework for the Early Childhood Specialist program at Southeast Technical College. 

South Dakota Early Childhood Enrichment

The South Dakota Early Childhood Enrichment System is dedicated to improving the quality of early childhood education across the state while saving providers time and money. The organization offers a range of services including professional development workshops, educational resources, discounts, and personalized support to enhance childcare programs. 

Grants from private foundations

Private foundations also play a significant role in supporting childcare providers through grants. Here are some noteworthy foundations offering grants:

Bush Foundation

The Bush Foundation supports innovative solutions to community challenges, including those related to early education. They support individuals and organizations located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations in the same geographic area.

Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation

The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation provides Community Fund grants to nonprofit organizations and projects that address the needs of the people in the Sioux Falls area. 

South Dakota Community Foundation

The South Dakota Community Foundation provides funding to support a wide range of community initiatives, including early education, through grants that help improve and enrich the lives of South Dakota residents.

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

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

Preschool teacher plays blocks with student in classroomSource

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 South 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 South 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 South 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

As a childcare provider in South Dakota, accessing grants can significantly benefit your organization’s success. Government agencies, private foundations, and local organizations offer various resources to support childcare providers. Taking advantage of these opportunities can help you maintain high standards of care and expand your services.


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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