Illinois Daycare and Child Care Grants


Looking for funds to start, and later on maintain, a child care business is a daunting task especially now that obtaining a bank loan is a very difficult process. Many people who are in the child care business oftentimes draw capital from their savings or borrow from family and friends. In some instances, running a child care business becomes financially unsustainable but operators keep on going just for the love of children and their commitment to provide the community the necessary service of caring children of working parents.

Instead of seeking a bank loan, a better alternative to obtain funding for the continued operation of a child care center is to look for grants that are given by many organizations, both government and private. A single grant may not be enough to sustain the operation of a child care center but is possible to obtain multiple grants to cover the needed capital. The best source of grants for a child care center is the local Child and Family Service Office which can help a child care center access several grant programs. Operators can also tap local businesses to contribute funds toward the establishment and maintenance of the child care center.

Applying for a grant is not easy but it is not as difficult or daunting as it may seem. Most organizations that provide grants have ready application forms which are generally self-explanatory. Some grants are provided for child care centers that work with specific groups of children but it is not the general requirements for most of the child care grants. The basic requirements for availing of a grant include a business license to operate a child care center and a federal tax identification number.

Most grant applications require a grant proposal, which is simply a request for a grant that outlines the reasons why the child care center should be entitled to it. The grant proposal, therefore, must “sell” the business to the grant approval board by enumerating the purpose of the center and the population it will serve. The proposal must explain how the child care center can provide a positive impact on the community that it aims to serve. The proposal must also explain how the grant will be specifically used for.

Different Sources of Grants

  1. Federal

    Federal grants are funded by the different agencies of the federal government. Typically, grants from a federal agency are funneled down to the communities through state agencies.

    U.S. Department of Agriculture – It has two agencies with start-up/expansion funding programs:

    The Rural Housing Service (RHS) has facility funding available for non-profits or local governments that support child care facilities. (

    The Rural Business Cooperative Service has guaranteed loan programs for small business development available for profit child care programs. For eligibility or to apply for any of their programs, contact the state or local Rural Development Office,

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) – The agency has funding programs that support child care services. The Child Care Bureau has several funding programs for child care facilities.

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) – It supports child care facilities near or within public housing, EZ/EC’s, or low-income areas through facility construction using block grants, programs, and networks. To determine eligibility or to apply for any of their programs, contact the state HUD office at

    U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) – It provides small businesses financing options, technical assistance, and child care resource information. Check with your local SBA offices at

    U.S. General Services Administration – It has programs that allow the donation of surplus federal personal property to state and local public agencies and qualifying nonprofits, which include child care centers. Please contact

    There are other federal programs that support child care such as:

    The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) provide child care vouchers to subsidize the cost of care for low-income families as well as funds for state child care quality improvement initiatives. Nearly half of all children receiving CCDF subsidies are between the ages of five and 12. States are required to utilize at least 4 percent of their CCDF funds on quality activities and may also use discretionary funds earmarked by Congress for school-age care quality improvements and/or resource and referral activities. States may choose to use these funds to support initiatives to improve the quality and availability of school-age care, such as training programs or capacity-building grants for afterschool providers.

    Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds, which provide financial support for low-income families, may also be used to support afterschool programs in ways consistent with one or more of the four purposes of the TANF program. States may either directly spend TANF funds on afterschool programs and initiatives, or states can transfer up to 30 percent of their federal TANF allocation to the CCDF. TANF funds transferred to CCDF are subject to all of the CCDF rules and requirements, and can be used to expand out-of-school time capacity-building and quality-enhancement efforts. Direct TANF spending can provide states with additional flexibility when it comes to afterschool care. For example, funds can support services for older youth and can support programs as well as individual subsidies for children.

    The 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21CCLC) is the only federal funding source that exclusively supports afterschool programs. The purpose of 21CCLC is to support community learning centers that provide students with a broad array of academic enrichment services, including tutoring, homework help, and community service, as well as music, arts, sports, and cultural activities. When the program first began in 1998, the U.S. Department of Education made competitive awards directly to school districts. However, following the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, 21CCLC was converted into a state formula grant program. As a result, the Department of Education awards grants to State Education Agencies (SEAs), which then manage statewide competitions to grant funds to eligible organizations.

    Federal Food and Nutrition Programs may support snacks or meals for afterschool program participants. After school programs may be able to receive reimbursements from one of four different food and nutrition programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture: the National School Lunch Program: Afternoon Snacks, the Child and Adults Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program and the School Breakfast Program. Reimbursement from these programs can be used to free up funds already spent on meals and snacks to support other program components.

  2. State

    There are several state agencies in Arizona that fund child care assistance programs. Many grants can be obtained through the Family Child Care and Development Grants. Applications can be made through In addition, funding sources can be accessed through the following programs of the Arkansas Department of Human Services:

    Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS)

    Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP)

    Provides low-income, working families with access to quality, affordable child care that allows them to continue working and contributes to the healthy, emotional and social development of the child. Families are required to cost-share on a sliding scale based on family size, income, and number of children in care.

    What services are offered?

    Families can get a child care subsidy through the use of certificates or contracts. Under the certificate system, eligibility is determined by one of the 16 Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies located throughout the state. You can choose the child care provider who best fits your individual needs and care is available for full-time, part-time care or before and after school. You can use licensed or license-exempt child care centers and family homes, licensed group child care homes, in-home and/or relative care.

    Contact Information:

    Migrant Head Start

    Office provides child care and a comprehensive program of health, parent involvement, and social services for preschool children (under 6 years of age) of low-income migrant and seasonal farm workers.

    Child Development Program

    Provides a secure, stimulating environment in which children are helped to develop physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially. Classrooms must comply with state licensing standards and Head Start Performance Standards, offering full-time child care for children from 6 weeks to 6 years of age. The education program offers opportunities for active learning experiences for all ages. Teachers of 3, 4, and 5 year old children implement the Creative Curriculum, supplemented by the Anti-Bias Curriculum.

    In classrooms for infants and toddlers, teachers follow the methods of Creative Curriculum for infants and toddlers. The philosophy of respectful caregiving allows babies to develop at their own inherent pace, while providing them emotional support in a non-restraining physical environment.

    Contact Information:

    Head Start State Collaboration office

    Is a federal-state partnership organized to support and encourage collaboration with Head Start and various other state and local stakeholders that serve low-income families with young children.

    Who can receive these services?

    Various state and local stakeholders that serve low-income families with young children.

    What services are offered?

    The Collaboration Director works to educate the larger community about Head Start and provide information and ideas to support partnerships in eight federal priority areas which include education, child care, welfare, disabilities, homeless, health, family literacy, and community service activities. One of the programs administered by this office is the Child Care Collaboration program, implemented in 2004 to encourage and facilitate collaboration between child care and other early care and education programs, including Early/Head Start and State Pre-K.

    Contact Information:

    Quality Counts Quality Rating System (QRS)

    Assists Illinois child care programs in providing quality care for children and their families. A provider’s voluntary participation in QRS means they have gone the extra mile to help make sure children are receiving an enhanced learning and care experience, which can help children succeed in school and in life. Providers caring for children eligible for the IDHS Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) also receive a quality bonus above the standard payment rate.

    Contact Information:

  3. Private

    Private foundations that are based or operating in the State of Illinois, as well as those operating nationwide, can also be tapped as source of funding for the establishment and operation of child care business, support for parents and families to avail of child care services, and the training of professionals in the field of child care. Some of these foundations are the following:

    Bank of America Foundation
    The Bank of America Foundation operates with one of the largest philanthropic budgets of any financial institution in the United States. In 2001 it contributed more than $85 million in cash to nonprofit organizations across the country. It concentrates funding on pre-K through grade 12 educations and supports programs in early childhood development, economic and financial education, and teacher development. Community revitalization is another focus for funding nonprofit organizations.

    Contact Information:

    Enterprise Foundation
    The Enterprise Foundation and its more than 2,200 network members work together to provide low-income people with affordable housing, safer streets, and access to jobs and child care. Its mission is to see that all low-income people in the United States have the opportunity for fit and affordable housing, and to move up and out of poverty into the mainstream of American life. The foundation believes that supporting quality and affordable child care in low-income communities is critical to the growth and health of neighborhoods. They support home-based and center-based care, foster community partnerships, and advocate for public policy changes to improve the quality, supply, and affordability of child care in low-income communities.

    Contact Information:

    Foundation for Child Development (FCD)

    FCD is a national private philanthropy dedicated to the principle that all families should have the social and material resources to raise their children to be healthy, educated, and productive members of their communities. FCD seeks to understand children, particularly the disadvantaged, and to promote their well-being. The foundation supports basic and policy-relevant research about the factors that promote and support optimal development of children and adolescents; policy analysis, advocacy, services, and public education to enhance the discussion and adoption of social policies that support families in their important child-raising responsibilities; and leadership development activities linked to the programmatic focus of the foundation.

    Contact Information:

    Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF)

    RBF is dedicated to promoting the well-being of all people in the transition to global interdependence. One of the goals of the fund’s Education Program is to promote universal, quality education and care for pre-K children by using a comprehensive approach to their development, including concerns for health, safety, and readiness to learn. Strategies include supporting development of public policies that promote universal access to early childhood programs, and advancing the professional development of early educators.

    Contact Information:

    Albert Pick, Jr. Fund

    The Albert Pick, Jr. Fund considers requests only from nonprofits with offices and separately budgeted programs operating within the City of Chicago. The Fund will review applications from civic and community-based organizations working to improve the City and its individual neighborhoods. Additionally, programs that enhance the environment, address the needs of minorities and the physically disabled and/or promote good government and human relations, will be considered.

    The Fund supports the efforts of Chicago’s cultural organizations – both large and small; Education: the majority of its resources for this program category will be allocated to organizations with programs and services in early childhood education, tutoring, at-risk intervention and in job training and retraining; The Fund values the efforts of Chicago-based nonprofits involved in the direct delivery of health and human service programs. Grants will not be made, however, to hospitals or to local chapters of single-disease agencies. Eligible nonprofits with programs providing health, disabled or rehabilitation counseling; and/or crisis and shelter care services to youth, at-risk families and geriatric populations will be considered.

    Contact Information:

    30 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1002, Chicago, IL 60602-3502
    (312) 236-1192

    Alliant Energy Foundation
    The Alliant Energy Foundation was formed in order to help improve the quality of life — now and in the future — in the communities where Alliant Energy has a presence – Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Foundation’s programs reflect a commitment to play an active role in those areas and give back to future generations. Areas of interest include Human needs, Education, Culture & Art, Civic involvement, the Environment.

    Contact Information:

    Barney Family Foundation – Chicago
    The Barney Family Foundation’s primary focus is in the educational field, particularly children in grades K-8. The Barney Family Foundation places significant emphasis on giving children the opportunity for a better education. We want to be convinced that a project we fund will lead, over time, to significant improvement in children’s life experiences and as such, favor proposals that describe a plausible and practical chain of events leading to tangible results for children.

    Contact Information:

    Kristen Barney Adams

    The Barney Family Foundation

    130 South Canal Street, Suite 9T

    Chicago, IL 60606-3919

    Phone: (312) 632-0000

    Chicago Foundation for Education

    Founded in 1985 by Joyce Rumsfeld and a small group of concerned citizens, the Chicago Foundation for Education has dedicated the past twenty years to improving and enhancing the educational experiences provided to Chicago’s public elementary school children.

    Contact Information:
    400 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 720 Chicago, IL 60611
    312.670.2323 (Main Line)
    312.670.2029 (Fax)

    Chicago Tribune Foundation – Chicago, Illinois
    The Chicago Tribune Foundation aims to promote public knowledge and strengthen the Chicago metropolitan community by encouraging journalistic excellence and diversity, supporting diverse cultural institutions and arts education for low-income children, and promoting civic efforts.

    Contact Information:
    Mail to:


    Colonel Stanley R. McNeil Foundation
    The Colonel Stanley R. McNeil Foundation was established in 1993 to support and promote quality educational, human services, and health care programming for underserved populations. Special consideration is given to charitable organizations that serve the needs of children. The Foundation is particularly interested in funding programs or organizations that focus on: Children’s causes, Start-up initiatives within the human services or arts and cultural arenas, Healthcare.

    Program Type: Arts, Culture, & Humanities; Education; Health; Human Services
    Area Served: IL

    Proposal Due: Rolling

    Restrictions: Chicago Metropolitan Area

    Contact Information:
    231 S LASALLE ST

    CHICAGO, IL 60697

    ConAgra Foods Foundation

    The ConAgra Foods Foundation seeks to partner with impactful organizations that address childhood hunger and nutrition needs in the communities where our employees live and work. While any organization that is working to address community needs is eligible for funding, preference will be given to those that seek to provide children and their families with access to food and nutrition education. Religious organizations such as churches, mosques and synagogues may qualify only if their outreach programs are offered to the general population regardless of religious affiliation AND they have established a separate 501(c)(3) organization to operate the funded program(s). ConAgra Foods has offices in Omaha, Nebraska, Kennewick, Washington, Naperville, Illinois, Edina, Minnesota.

    Contact Information:

    Dermody Properties Foundation
    The Dermody Properties Foundation was founded in 1988, funded by the profits generated by the hard work and dedication of all employees at DP Partners. With a focus on the arts, education, and the family, as well as a special emphasis on children and the elderly, our employee-managed Foundation has provided funds and volunteer support to over 200 worthy non-profit organizations and community causes. The company has offices in Reno, Nevada, Portland, Oregon, Chicago, Illinois, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

    Contact Information:

    Dr. Scholl Foundation
    The Dr. Scholl Foundation is dedicated to providing financial assistance to organizations committed to improving our world. Solutions to the problems of today’s world still lie in the values of innovation, practicality, hard work, and compassion. Application for grants are considered in the following areas: Programs for children, developmentally disabled, senior citizens, civic and cultural institutions, social service agencies, hospitals and health care, environmental organizations and religious institutions. Applications can be submitted between November 1 and March 1 of the following year. 65% of grants are given in Illinois.

    Contact Information:

    Foundations of East Chicago
    The Foundations of East Chicago are committed to improving the lives of every resident of our city. Conceived by the citizens of East Chicago to be independent, citizen-run, private foundations, we derive funding from East Chicago’s local casino, and use this money to support local churches, schools, and nonprofit organizations who know the community best and put in the money in action where it can do the most good. The Foundation has a strong track record of giving in the areas of community health, safety, and productivity. They are also committed to fostering the best educational opportunities for our citizens, including scholarships, career development, and avenues for parental involvement with their children’s academic success.

    Contact Information:

    Grace Bersted Foundation
    The Grace Bersted Foundation was established in 1986 to support and promote quality educational, human services, and health care programming for underserved populations. Special consideration is given to charitable organizations that serve the needs of children or the disabled. The Grace Bersted Foundation specifically serves the people of DuPage, Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties in Illinois. The deadline for application to the Grace Bersted Foundation is September 1. Grant decisions will be made by December 31.

    Contact Information:
    231 S LASALLE ST
    CHICAGO, IL 60697-0001

    Grand Victoria Foundation
    The Grand Victoria Foundation supports nonprofit organizations in Illinois whose efforts expand educational opportunities for children, boost the economic vitality of cities and regions, and improve the health of our environment.

    Local focus: Applicants must be operating in Kane, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kendall, Will, Winnebago, DeKalb or suburban Cook counties and be engaged in one or more of the activities that the Foundation supports.

    Regional focus: Applicants must be operating in the Chicago Metropolitan area and be collaboratively engaged in one or more of the activities that the Foundation supports to address issues that are regional in scope. Examples include air quality, transportation, and growth management.

    Statewide focus: Applicants must be operating in Illinois and engaged in child care, land use and protection, and/or workforce development efforts that impact a substantial portion of Illinois.

    Grantmaking programs: Education, Economic Development, Environment.

    Contact Information:

    McCormick Foundation
    The McCormick Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to strengthening our free, democratic society by investing in children, communities and country. The Foundation only funds not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organizations in the following areas: Education, Citizenship, Journalism, Civic, cultural, educational, health and social service institutions. Geographical focus area: Illinois.

    Contact Information:

    Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation – Chicago
    The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation supports efforts to improve public education in the City of Chicago and to ensure that children attending kindergarten through twelfth grades have access to a quality, public education. The Foundation is specifically interested in: Strengthening and supporting innovative, successful public schools, including charter schools; Developing and promoting strong school leadership; Improving the health and fitness of children attending Chicago Public Schools.

    Contact Information:

Illinois Daycare Training and Education