Business development

Navigating funding and grants for childcare businesses

Simplified breakdown of what you need to know when applying for grants
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March 5, 2024
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In a rush? Here’s a quick breakdown.

  • It is no secret that today most directors and owners need grant money for childcare businesses. This can be a time-consuming process, and you may not be sure how to get started.
  • This article simplifies the process of applying for grants for your childcare business, and also includes some resources and tips on how to write your proposal.

Whether you are curious about grants for opening a childcare center, or for your current center, there are a lot of resources out there. But, if you’re like me, all the information can feel overwhelming and actually be more confusing than helpful. Especially those state websites where they clearly list out all the important information, but of course use political jargon and confusing phrasing. 

But, I tried to simplify the process of applying for a grant, and included some tips for writing your proposal.

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Grant money for childcare: how to get started

  1. First, make sure your childcare business’s license requirements are met. Each state has different policies, applications and licenses that need to be met to be considered a legitimate childcare business. Make sure all of that is complete before applying for grants. 
  2. Then, start by researching and learning about grant opportunities. Look for grants specifically aimed at childcare businesses, including federal, state, local government grants, and private funding sources. Websites like grants.gov and your state's childcare resource and referral (CCR&R) agency are super helpful resources.
  3. Each grant has specific eligibility criteria – make sure you are eligible. Before you invest time writing an application, make sure you meet the basic requirements. This may include the type of childcare you will provide, location, the children you serve, and how you plan to use the funds. 
  4. Double check the application deadline. Make sure that you have given yourself enough time to gather the documents and information that you will need. Also give yourself time to write a strong, compelling proposal. 
  5. Many grants require a detailed business plan. This should outline your center's mission, structure, financials, market analysis, and strategic plans. Your business plan should show that your childcare business is set up to succeed, and how the grant will support your goals.
  6. Collect all required documentation. Make sure to triple check what information is needed in your application. For instance, financial statements, tax returns, your business license, proof of insurance, and any other legal documents related to your business.
  7. Time to write your grant proposal. The grant proposal should clearly explain why you are applying for the grant, how the funds will be used, and the amazing benefits that will happen if you are given the grant. Again, make sure to follow the grant's instructions carefully and address all the points and questions that are asked. (More on how to write a grant below)
  8. As a part of the grant proposal, create a detailed budget that outlines how you plan to allocate the grant funds. Be realistic and ensure that the budget aligns with the proposal's goals and activities.
  9. Review your application before submitting it. Specifically, make sure you have met all the submission guidelines, and answered all the necessary questions.
  10. After submission, monitor your application's status. Be prepared to provide additional information if the grantor requests it.

While the grant writing process may take some time, gathering all the necessary information and documents doesn’t have to. With a childcare management program (like Famly), all your childcare billing, reports, data and documents are stored digitally, all-in-one place. No more digging through various papers and folders to find what you need.. No more digging through various papers and folders to find what you need.

Also, don’t be discouraged if you are not given a grant or fund. It happens. Think of all the childcare centers looking for funding! Stay motivated, stay on top of grant availability, and keep applying – It is so worth it once you get that grant!

Ok, now to what most would consider the toughest part…

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Tips for writing a grant proposal

What should be included in a grant proposal

The grant will explain what needs to be included in your proposal, but almost all should include:

  • Cover letter
    Like a job application, this should include a brief summary of important information, but most importantly, grab the attention of the reader.
  • A description of your center
    Include your mission, the children you serve, location, curriculum or philosophy, and your goals. Also, introduce yourself and your staff members to paint a more holistic, personal picture of your childcare business
  • A business plan and/or financial documents
    What specific information and documents to include is usually listed in the grant’s requirements.
  • How you will use the grant and funds
    Make sure to clearly explain how you will use the funds if you are given the grant, and what impact that will have on the quality of care you can provide.

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Other helpful tips to help you apply for grant money for your childcare center

Don’t be afraid to reach out for help with writing grant proposals. Ask someone on your staff to help you proofread and edit. Refer to books, workshops, online resources, or even hiring a grant writer who has experience with childcare grants.

But, if you are tackling the grant application process yourself…

  • Understand the funder: Research the organization offering the grant. Understand their goals, priorities, and what they look for in a proposal. You want to write your application in a way that makes it clear your childcare business aligns with the funder's objectives
    -- Also, it’s a really good idea to read previous grant-winning submissions, so you can understand what the grant organization is looking for, and what they consider to be a successful proposal. 
  • Be clear and concise: Your proposal should clearly articulate your needs, objectives, and how the grant will impact your childcare program. Avoid jargon and overly complex language. Make it easy for the grant reviewer to understand your project and its significance.
  • Focus on the impact: Funders want to know the impact of their investment. Describe the specific outcomes and benefits you will achieve if given the grant. Also, explain how you will measure success, and deem if the project was successful. 
  • Create emotion: Tell a compelling story about your childcare center. Highlight your achievements, the needs of the children and families you serve, and how the grant will make a difference. When you leave an emotional impact, or stimulate a more personal response, it can be persuasive. 
  • Make sure your budget is specific: Your budget should clearly outline how you plan to use the grant funds. Be specific and ensure every expense is justified in the context of your proposal's objectives.
  • Proofread and seek feedback: Before submitting your proposal, get feedback from colleagues, mentors, or even someone unfamiliar with your program. Fresh eyes can catch errors and offer valuable insights on how your proposal can be improved.
  • Triple check requirements: It would be such a bummer if you weren’t given a grant because you missed something in the guidelines. This includes respecting word limits, answering all questions, and submitting all requested documents.
  • Stay aware even after hitting the submit button: Keep track of deadlines and required materials. Missing a deadline or failing to submit a required document can result in automatic disqualification.

A few other resources:

Check out KidKare’s article with a sample grant proposal. Or, for a couple tips on tone of voice, this article offers 10 tips

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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