Expanding Child Care Capacity for Hard-Working Families
Indiana’s Child Care Expansion Grant program is a recent state-funded initiative to expand quality child care access, especially for our most vulnerable, hard-working families. The competitive grant opportunity provides funding for early childhood and school-age providers to grow seat capacity to serve more CCDF and On My Way Pre-K children and families.
The application period has ended, and applications are currently under review. Applicants are expected to receive email notification about grant decisions by late June, and funding will be sent to awardees shortly after. More details about the funding process will be shared with the award notifications. Providers awarded funding through the Existing Program Expansion track will have 12 months from the time of award to expend funds, and those awarded through the New Program Creation track will have 18 months. Ongoing support will be made available to awarded providers through SPARK Learning Lab as they plan for how to use and make investments with their grant funds.
Child Care Expansion Grant
Informational Webinar Recording
Through Child Care Expansion Grants, Indiana state leaders intend to grow quality child care access in underserved communities and for priority age groups, such as infants and toddlers, where significant gaps currently exist in the state's child care landscape. Grant opportunities are available to support providers in expanding or repositioning child care seats in existing programs and in creating new programs in underserved areas. Providers can submit one application per site, and may apply across each application track:
Existing Program Expansion
Grants of up to $200,000 per program to assist providers in updating existing facilities and operations to add or reposition seats to serve more children.
To be eligible to apply, early childhood education and school-age providers must:
- Be a licensed, regulated or registered child care provider as defined by IC 12-7-2 or IC 12-17-12-5. LLEPs, Early Head Start programs and Head Start programs also are eligible to apply. Early Head Start and Head Start applicants must be regulated by OECOSL or willing to become regulated by OECOSL to be eligible for funding.
- Be in good standing with OECOSL and actively serving children ages 0-12.
- Be an active Paths to QUALITY™ program with a demonstrated commitment to achieving high-quality status (for example, having an established active professional development plan through SPARK Learning Lab by the time of application).
- Commit to providing access for CCDF and On My Way Pre-K families.
- Agree to maintain and operate the site as an early childhood education program for a minimum of three years.
New Program Creation
Grants of up to $750,000 for applicants to establish a new child care program in an underserved area. Applicants must be the intended program operator of the site and contribute a minimum of 10% of total project budget, either in cash, loan funding or through in-kind donations or contributions.
To be eligible to apply, applicants must also agree to meet the following as part of receiving funding and opening this new site:
- A licensed, regulated or registered child care provider as defined by IC 12-7-2 or IC 12-17-12-5. Early Head Start and Head Start programs are not eligible to apply under the New Program Creation track.
- Achieve Paths to QUALITY™ Level 3 or 4 or have an established plan for doing so through their local child care resource and referral agency or SPARK Learning Lab.
- Demonstrate a willingness to prioritize access for CCDF and On My Way Pre-K families.
- Agree to maintain and operate the site as an early childhood education program for a minimum of five years.
Awarded providers may use Child Care Expansion Grant funds across several allowable categories to cover the cost of expenses incurred in planning and implementing their capacity project. Allowable expense categories are listed below and outlined in the Allowable Expense Guide (en español aquí)
Note: Awarded programs are required to keep expenditure records and supporting documentation related to how funding was spent for state and federal reporting purposes.
Costs include expenses related to construction services and materials at existing or new sites. Examples: building walls, adding or upgrading a bathroom, installing fencing, replacing flooring, adding a door, installing a fire suppressant system, etc. (*Note: Funds are meant for renovating or enhancing an existing owned or leased facility to add child care capacity. Funds cannot be used to purchase a building or home or to build a new site.)
Costs include expenses related to the outfitting of a classroom or site for operation. Examples: playground equipment and installation, furniture, classroom refrigerators, cribs, computers and hardware, and purchasing toys, books, rugs, cleaning supplies, diapers, linens, etc.
Costs include expenses related to hiring short-term contracted expertise contributing to the proposed project. Examples: architects, accountants, project managers, attorneys, etc.
Costs include expenses related to hiring, onboarding or training staff. Examples: paid job postings, job fairs, background checks, new hire bonuses, health and safety training, professional development, etc.
Costs include expenses related to achieving or sustaining an active Paths to QUALITY™ Level 3 or 4. Examples: curriculum or assessment tools, professional development, credential/certification attainment, social emotional learning supports, family engagement efforts, kindergarten transition supports, etc.
Other operational costs not included in the above categories that are incurred as part of a provider’s efforts to add to or reposition capacity, or sustain program operations. Examples: lost revenue due to a temporary closure of a classroom for renovation, staff wages paid during temporary closure, new family enrollment incentives, creation of new policies, procedures and business processes, purchase and/or setup of accounting software, purchase of or changes to child care management system, etc.
Have a question about eligible expenses?
More information is provided in the allowable expense guide.
SPARK Learning Lab will be providing ongoing support for the Child Care Expansion Grant program, including support for awarded providers throughout the grant and reporting period. For questions or support, review the frequently asked questions below or contact the SPARK Help Desk at (800) 299-1627 or email email@example.com. Live chat is also available on indianaspark.com or in My SPARK Learning Lab.
Frequently Asked Questions
General Information and Eligibility
Indiana's Child Care Expansion Grant program aims to increase quality child care access for vulnerable families, especially within underserved areas and priority age groups such as infants and toddlers. The effort prioritizes access for CCDF and On My Way Pre-K children and families and is supported by state funding made available through Senate Enrolled Act 2 from the 2022 Indiana General Assembly special session.
Funding for this grant opportunity is limited, and awards will only be made to providers with applications that best meet the grant purpose and goals. As such, submitted grant applications cannot be reopened for edits.
Early childhood, including family child care homes, and school-age programs may request funding to expand or reposition seat capacity at an existing child care program or to create a new child care program in an underserved area.
- Existing Program Expansion: Programs applying under the Existing Program Expansion track must be licensed or registered, in good standing, an approved CCDF provider, and operating as an active Paths to QUALITYTM program with a demonstrated commitment to achieving high-quality status. LLEPs, Early Head Start programs and Head Start programs are eligible to apply. Early Head Start and Head Start applicants must be regulated by OECOSL or willing to become regulated by OECOSL to be eligible for funding.
- New Program Creation: Programs applying under the New Program Creation track must be the intended operator of the new site and agree to meet the same eligibility requirements as the Existing Program track by the time of opening. Applicants in this category are also required to contribute a minimum of 10% of the total project budget, either in cash, loan funding or through in-kind donations or contributions. New programs should be operational before the end of the grant period, which is 18 months after receiving an award.
All applicants must also be willing to prioritize access and enrollment for CCDF and On My Way Pre-K children and families.
Yes, funds can be used to increase child care capacity for children aged up to 13 years, as long as the provider agrees to serve CCDF families. There is no minimum age that providers are required to serve.
Yes, LLEPs, Early Head Start programs and Head Start programs also are eligible to apply. Early Head Start and Head Start applicants must be regulated by OECOSL or willing to become regulated by OECOSL to be eligible for funding.
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, be current with reporting requirements for any previously received state grant (e.g., Build, Learn, Grow Stabilization Grant) and may not be in an active repayment process or the subject of an active investigation or enforcement action by OECOSL.
Questions regarding the status of your license or registration, or OECOSL enforcement status should be directed to your licensing consultant or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Licensing consultant contact information can be found here.
Yes, you can apply for a grant. Being Level 3 or 4 at the time of applying is not required. However, per the eligibility requirements, programs must agree to become a Paths to QUALITY™ Level 3 or 4 as part of receiving the grant and have an established plan for doing so through SPARK Learning Lab. There is no specified timeline for achieving Level 3 or 4 as this will vary per each individual provider’s plan. To get started on Paths to QUALITY, please contact PTQ@indianaspark.com.
The Child Care Expansion Grant program offers two funding tracks: Existing Program Expansion and New Program Creation. The Existing Program Expansion track grants provides grants up to $200K for providers to add or reposition existing seats at an existing site to serve more children. The New Program Creation track offers grants up to $750K to establish new child care programs in underserved areas. In both cases, projects must facilitate the creation of new seats or newly-repositioned seats for children and families.
Existing Program Expansion Track Examples:
- A family home provider wants to move to a class II license to serve more children.
- A center wants to renovate a classroom or building to increase the number of seats available.
- A ministry wants to reposition an under-enrolled pre-K classroom into a toddler classroom to better meet local family needs.
New Program Creation Track Examples:
- Existing operator wants to open another location in an underserved area.
- Existing operator wants to move to a new location with expanded space to serve more children.
- A new operator wants to open a new child care program in an underserved area.
Funds can be used across several expense categories to add or reposition seat capacity. Access the Allowable Expense Guide here (en español aquí).
Please note that within the facilities category of allowable expenses, funds are meant for renovating or enhancing an existing owned or leased facility to add child care capacity.
Funds cannot be used to purchase a building or home, to build a new site, or to pay for leasing a space.
Please also note that within the workforce category, paying staff wages/salaries is only allowable for new staff that are hired directly as part of grant-funded expansion.
Funds are meant for renovating or enhancing an existing owned or leased facility to add child care capacity. That means that funds cannot be used to build a completely new structure, but can be used to add onto a current site. Using funds for facilities is only allowable if the changes are being made to serve more children. If a site is already serving the maximum number of children allowed per licensing, funds cannot be used for facilities.
Repositioning existing seat capacity occurs when a provider shifts seats from one age group to another to better serve the needs of families. For example, a provider might have noticed a decline in their preschool/pre-K enrollment, while simultaneously seeing a growing demand or waitlist for families for infant and toddler care. Thus, they might flip a classroom to serve a younger age group.
Adding seats, on the other hand, occurs when a provider increases their program's total number of seats to serve additional children. For example, a provider might increase the number of seats in a preschool classroom, amounting to an overall gain in the number of seats across the program.
Depending on the type of license in place, the capacity may increase based upon added functional square footage. This grant will not allow a program to expand seats beyond its current licensed capacity.
In receiving these funds, providers agree to comply with all grant terms, including but not limited to: adding to or repositioning their capacity to serve and enroll additional CCDF or On My Way Pre-K families and to maintain those seats for a predetermined amount of time. Sites are not required to be serving CCDF or On My Way Pre-K families at the time of application, but should indicate plans to do so when grant funds are received.
Additionally, awardees also will be required to complete grant reports submit them via the I-LEAD grant portal. Full provider terms and agreements are included in the grant application.
As with all funding, awardees are responsible for tracking how funds were used, including ensuring funds from different sources or opportunities do not pay for the same expenses. Programs will be instructed to retain all receipts and documentation associated with the spending of Child Care Expansion Grants for reporting and auditing purposes.
Grant awards will be based on the relative scale and projected impact of requested projects. Applicants applying under the Existing Program Expansion track may request up to $200,000, while those applying under the New Program Creation track can request up to $750,000. New Program Creation awardees are required to contribute a minimum of 10% of total project budgets, either in cash, loan funding or through in-kind donations or contributions.
A total of $10 million is available to be awarded through this grant opportunity, and there is not a predetermined number of awards that will be given out. Awarded programs are not guaranteed to receive the amount of funding originally requested.
Only programs applying in the New Program Creation track are required to provide a cost-share fund match. Applicants must be the intended program operator of the site and contribute a minimum of 10% of the total project budget, either in cash, loan funding or through in-kind donations or contributions. Programs applying in the Existing Program Expansion track are not required to provide a cost-share fund match.
Yes. We encourage providers to blend and maximize grant funding to expand and enhance the services they provide to children and families. 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.
Yes, new sites need that receive grant funding are expected to be open prior to the end of the grant period, which is 18 months after receiving funds.
No, the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning’s Child Care Expansion Grants program is a state- and federally-funded grant opportunity specifically intended to increase quality child care access for vulnerable families, especially with underserved areas and priority age groups such as infants and toddlers. The Early Years Initiative is a competitive grant opportunity offered by Early Learning Indiana, with support from Lilly Endowment Inc., for organizations to help infants and toddlers develop foundational knowledge and skills that support their future learning and development. Proposed programs or projects may include ensuring access to supportive child care, among several other priorities. To learn more about the Early Years Initiative, please visit EarlyYearsInitiative.org.
Yes, applicants are encouraged to seek complementary funding from other public and private sources to extend the impact of their efforts.
All documents uploaded to your grant application must be in PDF format. For help converting files to a PDF, please reference the following:
To convert a Microsoft Word document to a PDF, please follow the instructions listed here.
To convert a Google Doc to a PDF, please follow the instructions listed here.
Applicants will receive email notification of grant decisions by late June.
This is a competitive grant opportunity, meaning that not all applications will receive an award. Only applications that best meet the above criteria will be considered for an award.
The state will review applications and make award decisions based on a number of factors, including but not limited to a commitment to expand access to underserved children and families, the total number of seats being created, the quality level achieved or planned to be achieved by the applicant and the degree to which the applicant serves or plans to serve CCDF and On My Way Pre-K families. Applications should display a clear understanding of the local need, connect how grant funds will address those needs, and be realistically attainable for the provider in terms of things such as scale and sustainability.
Applicants are asked to thoroughly review their applications prior to submitting, as applications cannot be reopened for edits.
Awarded applicants will receive funds in full within three weeks of award notification.
Applicants should contact their licensing consultant or email@example.com. Licensing consultant contact information can be found here.
Post-Award Reporting and Considerations
Funds for Existing Program Expansion grants can be used to cover costs incurred up to 12 months after award. Funds for New Program Creation grants can be used to cover costs incurred up to 18 months after the award. Funds cannot be used to cover costs incurred prior to receiving the grant.
Yes, grants are considered funding income. All programs will receive a 1099 for grant funds received. We recommend consulting your accountant or tax expert for related questions and concerns.
Yes, programs are required to maintain receipts and documentation of grant expenditures for five (5) years. You will only be required to produce the receipts if your program is selected for a State or Federal audit to provide evidence of expenditures, as indicated in your grant.
In accepting the grant award, you are required to spend all grant funds by the deadline and in accordance with the terms of the grant. Failure to do so, including but not limited to permanent program closure within the time period outlined in grant terms, will result in having to repay or return unused funds.
No. OECOSL will not be publishing or sharing program-level data collected through grant applications.