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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Vermont

Explore the various childcare grants in Vermont, including financial resources from government agencies and funding from private foundations.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Vermont

Navigating Childcare Grants in Vermont

Childcare providers in Vermont seeking to improve or expand their services can benefit significantly from available grants. In this article, we explore various childcare grants designed to support providers in Vermont, helping you secure financial assistance to enhance your facilities, professional development, and overall quality of care.

What is a grant?

A grant is a sum of money given by an organization, often a government body or private foundation, to support specific projects or initiatives. Unlike loans, grants do not need to be repaid, making them an attractive option for childcare providers looking to make impactful changes without accruing debt. 

Grants play a crucial role in bridging the financial gap, especially for smaller childcare providers who may not have access to substantial funding. They can help you acquire new equipment, expand your facilities, or even subsidize the costs of professional development courses.

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 Vermont

Vermont offers a variety of programs aimed at supporting childcare providers. These come from both government agencies and private foundations, each with its own set of criteria and application processes. Here's a comprehensive list of financial assistance options available to you:

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Vermont Agency of Human Services, Department for Children and Families is the lead agency that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) in Vermont. 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.

Vermont Department for Children and Families

The Child Development Division provides various funding opportunities, each with their own eligibility criteria and requirements. Below, we highlight some of the available grants:

  • Special Accommodation Grants: Special Accommodation Grants (SAG) support the inclusion of children in licensed specialized childcare programs and are available monthly.
  • Extraordinary Financial Relief: The Extraordinary Financial Relief program is for childcare centers that are at imminent risk of closure in areas with high poverty rates.
  • Make Way for Kids: Make Way for Kids is an infant and toddler capacity building grant aiming to increase the availability of spaces at childcare programs for infants and toddlers. 

STARS

STARS is Vermont’s quality rating and improvement system designed to enhance early childhood and afterschool programs across the state. Participating providers are awarded up to five stars and higher-rated programs are eligible for increased financial incentives and grants, including tiered subsidy payments that are higher for programs with more stars. 

First Children’s Finance

First Children's Finance offers a range of resources to childcare providers in Vermont aimed at fostering financial sustainability and growth. Their services include free tailored business and financial consulting, designed to help providers enhance their financial planning, budgeting, and overall management practices.

Additionally, they offer access to business development grants, which can be used for purposes such as expanding facilities, purchasing new equipment, or implementing innovative educational programs. Workshops and training sessions are also provided, focusing on key topics such as business operations, financial management, and strategic growth.

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is essential for maintaining high-quality early education. The below grant opportunities can help you and your staff gain new skills and knowledge, ultimately enhancing the quality of care you provide:

Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC)

The Vermont Association for the Education of Young Children (VTAEYC) offers a variety of professional development grants and bonuses aimed at supporting early childhood educators across the state. Some notable programs include:

  • T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Vermont Scholarships: This program provides scholarships to childcare professionals pursuing higher education and professional development.
  • Early Childhood Professional Recognition Bonuses: These bonuses serve as a financial incentive for educators at Vermont childcare programs who achieve certificates from the Vermont Early Childhood Professional Development System, Vermont early childhood and afterschool credentials, or Vermont Agency of Education licensure.
  • Education Gap Grant: This grant is designed to bridge the financial gaps that may hinder the pursuit of higher education and professional development. This grant provides targeted financial assistance to cover expenses such as tuition fees, textbooks, and other educational materials, ensuring that educators can access advanced training and qualifications without the burden of significant out-of-pocket costs. 

Grants from private foundations

Private foundations offer additional funding opportunities that can complement government grants. These grants can support a wide range of initiatives, from facility improvements to program development.

Ben and Jerry’s Foundation

Ben and Jerry's Foundation supports social justice initiatives and local community action projects, including those aimed at improving access to quality childcare and early education for underserved communities in Vermont.

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.

Turrell Fund

The Turrell Fund focuses on improving the lives of young children in New Jersey and Vermont, including funding for early childhood education programs.

The Vermont Community Foundation

The Vermont Community Foundation offers various grants to support nonprofit organizations, including those providing childcare services.

Preschool teacher reading picture book to students during circle timeSource

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 Vermont. 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.
  • Grants.gov: The Grants.gov 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 Vermont 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 Vermont. 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

Grants can be a valuable resource for childcare providers in Vermont. By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can improve the quality of care you provide, attract more families to your services, and ultimately make a positive impact on your community.

 

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.


Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at mybrightwheel.com.

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