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Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Washington, D.C.

Learn more about childcare grants in Washington, D.C., how to navigate the application process, and tips for successfully securing funding.

Navigating Childcare Grants and Other Funding Resources in Washington, D.C.

Navigating Childcare Grants in Washington, D.C.

As a childcare provider in Washington, D.C., you play a vital role in shaping the future. However, managing a childcare facility comes with significant financial responsibilities. Luckily, various grants are available to support your efforts, whether you need funding for operational costs, facility upgrades, or professional development. 

In this article, we explore these resources in more detail, ensuring you can access the support you need to continue providing exceptional care and education.

What is a grant?

Grants are non-repayable funds provided by government agencies, foundations, or other organizations to support specific projects or initiatives. 

For childcare providers, grants can cover a range of needs from basic operational costs to special projects like facility renovations or professional development programs. Understanding the types of grants available and the criteria required to qualify is essential in securing the funding you need.

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 Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. offers a variety of grants and financial assistance specifically designed to support childcare providers. Below, we’ve categorized these grants to help you find the right fit for your needs.

Grants and resources from government agencies

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is the lead agency that oversees the distribution of the federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) in Washington, D.C. 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.

Washington, D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education

The OSSE, Division of Early Learning (DEL) supports childcare providers in the District of Columbia and ensures all children from birth to kindergarten have access to high quality care and education. Here are some key resources: 

  • Grants and funding: Depending on available funding, OSSE offers financial assistance grants to help cover operational costs, facility upgrades or renovations, or other areas related to early learning.
  • Child Care Subsidy Voucher Program: Available through the DC Department of Human Services, these vouchers assist providers serving low-income families.
  • Capital Quality (QRIS): This initiative evaluates and rates the quality of childcare providers in Washington DC. Participating providers get access to resources for continuous improvement, including professional development opportunities, coaching, and technical assistance. Additionally, providers may receive financial incentives tied to quality improvements, ensuring that high standards of care are maintained.

Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs

The Mayor's Office of Community Affairs (MOCA) in Washington, D.C. is dedicated to fostering vibrant, inclusive communities through various support programs and initiatives. One of the significant programs offered by MOCA is the Community Grant program, which is designed to fund projects that promote the well-being of local communities.

Teacher helping children color in classroomSource

Professional development support

Investing in the professional development of childcare staff is essential for maintaining high-quality early education. Continuous education and training are vital for providers to stay current with best practices. Here are some resources in Washington, D.C.: 

DC Childcare Connections

DC Childcare Connections serves as a comprehensive resource and referral hub for childcare providers. It offers assistance in areas such as staffing, training, navigating licensing requirements, and accessing funding opportunities. The organization also provides valuable workshops, technical assistance, and networking opportunities to help enhance the quality and sustainability of childcare services in Washington, D.C.


The DC LEAD program offers a variety of scholarships and incentives to early childhood professionals to assist them in their educational and career advancement. These include scholarships to fund tuition and related expenses for educators pursuing degrees or certifications in early childhood education and monetary rewards to educators who successfully complete their degree or certification programs.

Early Childhood Share DC

This online resource provides childcare providers with access to a wealth of practical tools and information, including lesson plans, curriculum guides, and administrative resources. Additionally, Early Childhood Share DC offers a platform for providers to connect, share best practices, and access discounts on essential supplies, helping to enhance the overall quality of early childhood education in the District of Columbia.

Grants from private foundations

Several private foundations serving the Washington, D.C. area also offer grants to support childcare providers. These organizations fund various initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality and accessibility of childcare services:

The Greater Washington Community Foundation

This foundation supports a range of programs that address critical community needs, including early childhood education. The foundation prioritizes projects that demonstrate measurable impact, sustainability, and the ability to foster positive change in underserved communities throughout DC, Northern Virginia, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County.

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation

The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation offers grants to support youth and family causes in the Washington, D.C. area, including childcare programs.

The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation

This foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations that enhance the lives of residents in the Washington, D.C. metro area. One of their focuses includes early childhood education and care, aiming to ensure that young children have access to high-quality learning environments.

The PNC Foundation

Through its Grow Up Great initiative, the PNC Foundation supports early childhood education efforts, offering grants to providers for curriculum development, teacher training, and classroom resources in Washington, D.C. and beyond.

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 Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C. 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 Washington, D.C., grants can provide the financial assistance you need to continue offering high-quality care and education. Understanding the available resources, eligibility criteria, and tips for successful applications can help you secure the funding necessary to improve your childcare 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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