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Learn more about Build, Learn, Grow resources for families and programs.

Build, Learn, Grow

Learn more about Build, Learn, Grow resources for families and programs.

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  • HELPING PROVIDERS REBUILD AND STRENGTHEN AFTER THE PANDEMIC

    Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants are non-competitive and designed to provide short-term funding to early care & education and out-of-school time programs that have faced increased costs and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to stabilize their operations and build capacity for the future. Grants are administered by Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning (OECOSL) and made possible by funding Indiana received from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act.

    Applications open the week of Oct. 4, 2021

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Eligibility

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To be eligible, early care and education and out-of-school programs must be:

  • A licensed center, licensed family child care home, unlicensed registered ministry or legally licensed-exempt provider who was licensed by March 11, 2021
  • Open and currently serving children on the date of application (Please note that temporary closures of 14 days or less due to COVID-19 exposure do not apply.)
  • In good standing with Indiana’s regulations for licensed or registered care. To be considered in good standing for the purposes of this grant, a program must be compliant with current regulations and may not be in an active repayment process or the subject of an active investigation or enforcement action by OECOSL.

Allowable Expenses

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Providers may use Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant funds across nine categories of allowable expenses to cover costs incurred from Jan. 31, 2020-Sept. 30, 2023. These allowable expense categories include:

  • Personnel Costs
    Payroll and salaries or similar compensation for an employee (including any sole proprietor or independent contractor), and benefits.

  • Employee Recruitment and Retention
    Premium pay, staff bonuses, wage increases, costs of insurance coverage, retirement, educational advancement, tuition reimbursement and child care costs.

  • Facility Fees
    Rent, lease or mortgage payments, utilities or insurance.

  • Maintenance or Improvements
    Allowable facility maintenance and improvements may include, but are not limited to, building or upgrading playgrounds, renovating bathrooms, installing railings, ramps or automatic doors to make the facility more accessible, and removing non-load bearing walls to create additional space for social distancing.

  • Business Supports
    Investing in services or practices to strengthen your program, like adopting a child care management software to improve operations and reporting, purchasing technology to improve financial management practices or engaging in shared service arrangements to reduce overhead costs.

  • COVID-19 Safety-Related Needs
    Purchases of or updates to equipment and supplies in response to COVID-19, personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitization supplies and services, or training and professional development related to health and safety practices.

  • Business Continuation Expenses
    Goods and services necessary to maintain or resume child care services.

  • Mental Health Support
    Counseling or other mental health supports for children and employees.

  • Health and Safety Training
    Training for staff, including but not limited to CPR, First Aid and medication administration.

Awarded programs are required to keep expenditure records and supporting documentation related to how funding was spent for state and federal reporting purposes.

Application Process

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The process to apply for and receive grant funds is streamlined to deliver funds as quickly as possible to providers. The application opens the week of Oct. 4 and runs until Dec. 30. Grants are awarded on a rolling basis and non-competitive in nature. Grant amounts are calculated per site based on each provider’s program type, average attendance, staffing costs, quality level and geography. Grant awards for this first round will total approximately 3 months of a provider’s monthly operating costs. A provider’s total amount of grant funding received through the Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant program is capped at $500,000 per site for the duration of the program.

Providers access the mobile-friendly application through the I-LEAD system. To streamline this experience for providers, any available state data is pre-populated within the application, allowing providers to confirm or change as needed.

Upon award, grant funds will be electronically deposited into providers’ bank accounts within three weeks of grant approval. Awarded programs have until Sept. 30, 2023, to spend grant funds.

Watch the Build, Learn, Grow

Stabilization Grants Webinar

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To help you prepare to take advantage of these grants, watch this introductory webinar featuring background information on the grant opportunity, eligibility criteria, participation requirements and more.

Support

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For support with the Build, Learn, Grow Child Care Stabilization Grant process, review the FAQs below or contact the SPARK Help Desk at (800) 299-1627 or email help@indianaspark.com. Live chat is also available on indianaspark.com or in My SPARK Learning Lab.

Eligibility FAQs


  • What programs are eligible to receive grant funding?

    To be eligible, programs must fall within one of the categories listed below and have been licensed or registered through OECOSL to operate in the state of Indiana on or before March 11, 2021. Programs must also be open and currently serving children, and their license or registration must be in good standing at the time of application submission.

    • Licensed child care centers
    • Licensed family child care homes
    • Unlicensed registered ministries
    • Legally licensed-exempt programs
  • What does it mean to be a program in “good standing”?

    To be in good standing for the purposes of this grant, a program must be compliant with Indiana’s regulations for licensed or registered care and may not be in an active repayment process or the subject of an active investigation or enforcement action by OECOSL.

    Questions regarding OECOSL enforcement status should be directed to your licensing consultant or to oecoslproviderinquiry@fssa.in.gov. Licensing consultant contact information can be found in the maps below.

  • Does my program have to be CCDF eligible to receive funding?

    No. Programs that meet the eligibility requirements of the grant can receive funding, regardless of whether they are eligible to serve children in the state’s subsidy program.

  • If my program was open before the COVID-19 pandemic and closed due to financial hardship but I want to reopen, am I eligible to apply for and receive funding?

    No. To be eligible, programs must meet all eligibility criteria including being open and currently serving children at the time of application submission. Future opportunities may be available for programs wishing to apply for reopening support.

  • Are Head Start programs eligible?

    Head Start or Early Head Start grantees are not eligible, however, Child Care Partnerships may apply.

  • Are On My Way Pre-K programs eligible?

    Yes. Programs that receive funds through the On My Way Pre-k program are eligible to apply but must attest that grant funds will be used for their intended purposes and not to replace other costs.

  • Are Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) or public, non-public, or charter schools eligible?

    Yes. LEAs who have been issued a license or registration from OECOSL are eligible. LEAs are exempt from the 20% requirement to spend funds on enhanced staff wages and benefits. Additional stipulations for the use of funds within these organization may apply and are outlined in the application.

  • If my program is eligible but I do not wish to receive funds, can I decline?

    Programs are not required to apply or participate in the program.

  • Can I apply if I have a pending application for a child care license?

    No. To be eligible, providers must meet all eligibility requirements including being licensed/registered at the time of the American Rescue Plan Act enactment on March 11, 2021. Providers licensed or registered after this date may be eligible for future funding opportunities.

  • If I became licensed after March 11, 2021, am I eligible to receive funds?

    No. To be eligible, providers must meet all eligibility requirements including being licensed/registered at the time of the American Rescue Plan Act enactment on March 11, 2021. Providers licensed or registered after this date may be eligible for future funding opportunities.

  • If I applied for and received financial support from another source, am I eligible for these funds?

    Yes. However, providers accepting these funds must ensure the funds are not used to pay for expenses already covered by other federal, state or local relief funds or grants.

Grant Details FAQs

  • What is the purpose of the Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants?

    Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants are designed to provide short-term funding to early care and education and out-of-school time programs that have faced increased costs and challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to stabilize their operations and build capacity for the future.

  • What is the deadline to apply?

    The application for the first round of funding is open the week of Oct. 4-Dec. 30, 2021. Applications will not be accepted after Dec. 30, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

  • How can grants be used?

    Child care programs may use Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant funds across nine categories of allowable expenses, for reimbursement of expenses incurred from Jan. 31, 2020–Sept. 30, 2023. These allowable expense categories include:

    • Personnel Costs: Payroll and salaries or similar compensation for an employee (including any sole proprietor or independent contractor), and benefits.
    • Employee Recruitment and Retention: Premium pay, staff bonuses, wage increases, costs of insurance coverage, retirement, educational advancement, tuition reimbursement and child care costs.
    • Facility Fees: Rent, lease or mortgage payments, utilities or insurance
    • Maintenance or Improvements: Allowable facility maintenance and improvements may include, but are not limited to, building or upgrading playgrounds, renovating bathrooms, installing railings, ramps or automatic doors to make the facility more accessible, and removing non-load bearing walls to create additional space for social distancing.
    • Business Supports: Investing in services or practices to strengthen your program, like adopting a child care management software to improve operations and reporting, purchasing technology to improve financial management practices or engaging in shared service arrangements to reduce overhead costs.
    • COVID-19 Safety-Related Needs: Purchases of or updates to equipment and supplies in response to COVID-19, personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitization supplies and services, or training and professional development related to health and safety practices
    • Business Continuation Expenses: Goods and services necessary to maintain or resume child care services
    • Mental Health Support: Counseling or other mental health supports for children and employees
    • Health and Safety Training: Training for staff, including but not limited to CPR, First Aid and medication administration
  • What is required of me if my program accepts these funds?

    Eligible providers must attest in writing that:

    • All provided information is accurate to the best of the provider’s knowledge and they will promptly notify OECOSL of any changes to information provided including the closure of the child care program.
    • Funds will be expended in accordance with the defined allowable expenses and the provider will follow required tracking and reporting purposes.
    • They will maintain compliance with any directive outlined in an Executive Order issued by the governor, guidance from the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning and/or local authorities, and, to the greatest extent possible, implement policies in line with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
    • At least 25% of awarded funds will be invested toward increasing staff wages or benefits. (Note: Providers may not use these awarded funds to supplant or replace existing costs, but rather must invest in new wage and benefit enhancements.)
    • Financial relief or support will be provided for enrolled families or some subset of them through efforts including but not limited establishing tuition assistance funds, creating sliding scale models, participating in the Build, Learn, Grow Scholarship fund, writing off tuition debt, etc.
    • All unspent funds will be returned in the case of the child care program’s closure.

    Additionally, providers must agree not to:

    • Reduce existing staff pay or benefits
    • Furlough or lay off employees
    • Use these funds to pay taxes
    • Use these funds to pay for expenses already covered by other federal, state or local relief funds or grants
  • How much funding are programs eligible to receive?

    Grant awards vary by program and are calculated at the provider site level using a cost estimation formula that considers program type, average attendance, staffing, quality level and geography.

    For the first grant period, awarded programs will receive grants totaling approximately three months of monthly operating expenses. Funding for future grant rounds may vary, and grant awards will be capped at $500,000 per site for the duration of the Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant program.

  • How far back can I go to reimburse my program for previous expenses?

    Programs may use Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant funds to cover expenses incurred from Jan. 31, 2020–Sept. 30, 2023.

  • Do I have to pay back grant funds?

    These funds are not considered a loan, and child care providers who comply with funding requirements will not be required to pay them back. However, funding recipients found to have violated the terms of the application process or attestation, or who are found to have provided false or misleading information to OECOSL regarding funding requirements, may be asked to repay funds, be deemed ineligible for future grant rounds, and/or be referred to Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration Audits Department for additional action.

    Additionally, programs that close permanently during the grant period will be required to return any unused funds.

  • How will I receive grant funds?

    The application period for the first grant round opens the week of Oct. 4 and runs through Dec. 30, and applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Upon award, grant funds will be electronically deposited into providers’ bank accounts within three weeks of grant approval.

  • Is there a limit to the number of programs that will be funded?

    No. Funds are in place so that every eligible program can receive at least one grant per site.

  • Will Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants be considered income when I file my 2021 taxes?

    Yes, the IRS and the Indiana Department of Revenue considers this funding income. All programs will receive a 1099 for grant funds received. OECOSL recommends consulting with your accountant or tax expert for related questions and concerns.

  • Do I have to provide receipts or documentation of how my program spent grant funds?

    Federal regulations require all recipients of federal funds to keep financial documents for five (5) years. You will only be required to produce the receipts if your program is selected for an audit to provide evidence of expenditures, as indicated in your grant.

    Expenditure records and supporting documentation related to how funding was spent include, but are not limited to:

    • Mortgage/rent/space cost statements
    • Utility statements
    • Payroll and benefit records
    • Original invoices and/or receipts for purchases of materials/supplies
    • Documentation of other benefits provided to child care staff members such as overage of insurance costs or tuition reimbursement
  • What is the deadline for my program to spend grant funds?

    All funds must be spent by Sept. 30, 2023, per federal guidance.

  • Am I required to repay or return funds if my program closes after receiving funding?

    If a program closes during the grant period, the provider will be required to return any remaining grant funds.

Application Process FAQs

  • How do I apply for Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grants?

    Applications for the first round of funding will be accepted on a rolling basis beginning the week of Oct. 4, 2021, through December 30, 2021. To apply, providers should log in to I-LEAD and click on the homepage button that says "Start your Stabilization Grant application".

    Applications will not be accepted after 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 30, 2021.

  • Is the online application the only way to apply?

    Yes, the application is only available online and must be submitted electronically. It can be completed using a computer or mobile device. The application works best in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge.

  • In what languages is the application available?

    The application is available in English, Spanish, French and Burmese.

  • Where can I get help filling out the grant application?

    If you need assistance, review the help resources available on this page or contact the SPARK Help Desk at (800) 299-1627 or email help@indianaspark.com. Live chat is also available on indianaspark.com or in My SPARK Learning Lab. The Help Desk is available Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

  • What do I need to apply for the grant?

    To simplify the application process for providers, much of the information has been pre-populated based on your license number. To confirm the information is correct and complete any remaining fields, you will need your:

    • Program enrollment information by classroom
    • Average monthly expenses including staff salary/wage and benefits information
    • Bank account information to set up direct deposit and have your award deposited directly into your account (Note: This only applies to programs that are not yet set up in the state’s payment system.)
  • Do I have to complete the full application at once, or can I save and return later?

    The grant system allows providers to save their application progress and return later to complete it.

  • What should I do if pre-filled information on my application is incorrect (e.g., address or contact information)?

    Please contact your licensing consultant if your application contains incorrect information that you are not able to update within the grant system. Licensing consultant contact information can be found in the maps below.

  • Do I have to enter my bank information to be paid?

    Providers who have entered banking information for past funding or payment efforts will not need to re-enter this information. However, providers who are not yet set up in the state’s payment system must enter their banking information into the secure portal to receive grant payments.

  • What is included on the application?

    The application is structured into the following sections:

    • Program Information – Providers are asked to review basic program information including program address, type and administrator contact information, and to confirm that they meet the related eligibility requirements of the grant.
    • Enrollment Counts – Providers will enter enrollment and staffing information for their program. This information will include age groups served by classroom (if applicable), typical number of staff present at one time, average attendance and maximum capacity.
    • Expenses – Providers will be presented with an estimated grant award to support monthly operating expenses. The total considers each provider’s program type, average attendance, staffing costs, quality level and geography.
    • Banking Information – Providers will enter their banking account information to establish direct deposit for receiving grant funds. If direct deposit has been set up previously, providers will simply review and confirm the information is correct.
    • Support Categories – Providers will review the grant’s approved expense categories and indicate how they plan to use funds.
    • Attestation – Providers will review the grant requirements and confirm that they understand and plan to adhere to them during the grant period.
  • Do multi-site organizations apply under one application, or do I complete an application for each site?

    Providers must apply for each site separately.

  • How long does it take to complete the application?

    While the time it takes to complete the application will vary by person, we recommend planning 20 minutes to complete each site application.

  • Is the application mobile friendly?

    Yes. The application can be completed on a smart phone or tablet, as well as a computer. The application works best in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Microsoft Edge.

  • How will I be notified of my grant award?

    In most cases, providers will receive award confirmation and the grant amount at the end of the grant application. If, however, their grant needs to undergo further review before award confirmation, those decisions will be made within seven business days.

  • If approved, how soon will I receive payment?

    Upon award, grant funds will be electronically deposited into providers’ bank accounts within three weeks of grant approval.

  • How will I know how much I should expect to receive?

    Grant awards are calculated at the program site level within the application using a cost estimation model. The cost estimation formula considers each provider’s program type, average attendance, staffing costs, quality level and geography. Providers will receive a total award amount during the application process so they are aware of the funding total they should expect to receive.

  • For what reasons might my application be denied?

    Applications may be denied based on a program’s inability to meet eligibility criteria or due to falsification of application information.

  • What if information about my program (e.g., address, ownership, authorized agents, etc.) changes after I submit my application?

    Programs should immediately contact their licensing consultant if there are pending changes to their program address, ownership or operational status.

Post-Award Support and Considerations FAQs

  • If I receive funding, am I required to complete grant reports?

    Yes. In receiving funds, programs agree to complete two grant reports: a mid-term report at three months post-award, likely to coincide with the application period for the second round of funding, and a final report at the conclusion of the grant period. These reports, which will be completed using the online portal, will collect important information on programs’ use of these funds and required state and federal reporting documentation.

  • Do I have to submit receipts to prove how my program spent funds?

    Programs are not required to submit proof of how the funds were spent, unless specifically requested. Programs are required to document spending and be prepared to share those records should OECOSL request them by audit. Providers selected for an audit must provide the department with documentation related to eligibility and use of funding.

  • Are there resources available to help me decide how to best use or invest grant funds into our program?

    Yes. OECOSL has partnered with SPARK Learning Lab to provide pre- and post-award support and technical assistance to awarded programs. Support includes hosted webinars for field experts to share best practices for the use of grant funds and peer-sharing events, as well as post-award technical assistance including a cohort-based approach to supporting programs as they account for funds, explore and make decisions for the use of funds, and track related expenses.

  • Can programs blend Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization funds with grant funding received through other public or private sources?

    Awarded programs may use Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant funds across nine categories of allowable expenses, for reimbursement of expenses incurred from Jan. 31, 2020 – Sept. 30, 2023. Programs are required to document spending and be prepared to share those records should OECOSL request them by audit.

    Allowable expense categories include:

    • Personnel Costs: Payroll and salaries or similar compensation for an employee (including any sole proprietor or independent contractor), and benefits.
    • Employee Recruitment and Retention: Premium pay, staff bonuses, wage increases, costs of insurance coverage, retirement, educational advancement, tuition reimbursement and child care costs.
    • Facility Fees: Rent, lease or mortgage payments, utilities or insurance
    • Maintenance or Improvements: Allowable facility maintenance and improvements may include, but are not limited to, building or upgrading playgrounds, renovating bathrooms, installing railings, ramps or automatic doors to make the facility more accessible, and removing non-load bearing walls to create additional space for social distancing.
    • Business Supports: Investing in services or practices to strengthen your program, like adopting a child care management software to improve operations and reporting, purchasing technology to improve financial management practices or engaging in shared service arrangements to reduce overhead costs.
    • COVID-19 Safety-Related Needs: Purchases of or updates to equipment and supplies in response to COVID-19, personal protective equipment, cleaning and sanitization supplies and services, or training and professional development related to health and safety practices
    • Business Continuation Expenses: Goods and services necessary to maintain or resume child care services
    • Mental Health Support: Counseling or other mental health supports for children and employees

Security, Privacy and Fraud Prevention FAQs

  • Is it safe to enter my banking information in the application?

    Yes. The Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant system was designed to be secure and protected.

  • Is immigration or citizenship information being shared with the federal government?

    No provider-level information is being shared with the federal government. Only required information will be shared.

  • Why is OECOSL asking about my program’s expenses?

    The questions asked and provider information provided inform the cost estimation model, which produces the grant award amount. Individual program data will not be published in any way, but aggregated data will help to inform changes to the state’s cost model and future reimbursement structures.

  • How will data from my application be used?

    Like other states, Indiana intends to use aggregated data collected through the grant program to expand the findings of the recently conducted Narrow Cost Analysis and to ultimately reassess and make updates to the state’s cost model and future reimbursement structures.

  • Will OECOSL be publishing any of the data collected as part of Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant applications?

    No. OECOSL will not be publishing the grant recipients nor the data they provide as part of the application.

  • Is the data in providers’ applications and the information about funding awards public data?

    Most funding application data is classified as public data, and if requested, must be made available to the person requesting it. Examples of private data that cannot be shared with the public are an individual’s Social Security information and data that can potentially identify children in programs. If you have data-related inquiries, please contact oecoslproviderinquiry@fssa.in.gov.