Grant Funding Opportunities

Past Grant Funding Opportunities

Through the Preschool Development Grant, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) are currently offering grant funds for activities that expand current best practices and target specific high-need communities and populations. Read more about past grant opportunities below.

Project Growth

Project Growth is a grant initiative designed to address the challenges facing Wisconsin’s child care system. The unique grants work to sustain programs that support families, invest in quality care so families can return to work, and improve employer recruitment and retention.

Project Growth invested millions towards businesses, communities, and child care programs that partner up to add services, find solutions, and innovate to strengthen Wisconsin’s economy. Project Growth's two grant programs include:

Partner Up! Grant Program

The Partner Up! grant program will provided funding to support partnerships between essential businesses who purchase slots at existing regulated child care providers. The funding was awarded based on existing community child care needs throughout Wisconsin. The funding from this program can be used to increase staff compensation, pay expenses, reserve child care slots for local business employees, improve the quality of a child care program, and more.

Dream Up! Child Care Supply Building Grant Program

The Preschool Development Grant (PDG) and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided funding for the Dream Up! grant program. Through this program, 37 communities received strategic planning support and $75,000 in grant funding. Additional $5,000 stipends were allocated to participating child care providers who submit updated business plans during the strategic planning process. Through a collaborative community approach, teams worked to evaluate, plan, sustain existing child care, and expand it in areas where there is need. 

Community Innovation Grants (2021)

Community Innovation Grants (CIG) were awarded in early 2021 to support young children ages birth to 5 and their families in our communities. Awardees used the funds for early care and education (ECE) programs/projects that address the issues of equity, workforce, access, affordability, quality, kindergarten readiness, and local collaboration.

The following local organizations were awarded funding to support their innovative projects:

Childcaring, Inc.

Childcaring, Inc. is dedicated to providing quality child care information and partnering with parents, care providers, business leaders, and community organizations to make quality care available to Central Wisconsin families. 

Through Community Innovation Grant funding, Childcaring, Inc. coordinated with the Department of Social Services and other local partners in LangladeLincoln, and Taylor Counties to:

  • Enroll 38 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5 years in the Good Start Grant Program which covers up to 65% of child care costs for eligible families.
  • Use a Referral Specialist as a Family Navigator who referred 64 families for assistance programs.
  • Reach out to 53 providers to incentivize enrollment in the YoungStar program or star rating advancement for providers already participating in the program. Stipends were provided to support the costs of maintaining or enhancing high-quality care.
Children’s Wisconsin - Black River Falls

Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin – Black River Falls provides services and resources to families with children aged 0-5 in Jackson and Trempealeau Counties to improve the social and emotional health of children and the overall well-being of families. Children’s Wisconsin – Black River Falls is partnering with Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity Council to implement their community innovation project.

Children’s Service Society, in collaboration with Western Dairyland Economic Opportunity used the grant funds to provide Family Navigators and education programs and connection to referral sources by:

  • Hiring, training, and supporting 1.5 family resource specialists.
  • Serving 174 families, and 348 children, through community outreach, providing resources and referrals, and Positive Parenting Program services.
  • Holding six provider and community trainings around self-advocacy, educating providers and early care education on the topics of the Wisconsin Pyramid Model, Trauma Informed Care, Building Protective Factors, and cultural humility.
Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley

Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley offers free parent education and support to families and children prenatal to kindergarten entry in Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties. To strengthen the communities they serve, Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley is partnering with St. Croix County Economic Development Corporation, Family Friendly Workplaces, OEM Fabricators, Nolato Contour, JA Counter, Threshing Table Farm, Child Protective Services in Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix Counties, and other community and parent partners to implement their community innovation project.

Family Resource Center St. Croix Valley used their Community Innovation Grant to implement a four-part strategy to expand early childhood education opportunities and engage the private sector business community to enhance early childhood education opportunities which includes:

  • Partnering with three county Economic Development Corporations and Family Friendly Workplaces to sponsor two workshops targeted to employers that focus on the science of Early Childhood Development and the benefits of investing in early childhood.
  • Partnering with three private sector employers for the development of a pilot that offered workplace access to early childhood/parent education programming for employees/parents/ grandparents/ caregivers of children 0-5 which included two virtual meetings and the distribution of Welcome Baby and Kindergarten Readiness resource bags.
  • 15 Parent Cafes, planned and led by community partners and parent educators on topics like Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, Social and Emotional Competence of Children, Parental Resilience, Concrete Support in Times of Need, and Social Connections.
  • Partnering with Threshing Table Farms, Crystal Ball Dairy Farm, Z-Orchard Field, White Pine Berry Farm, and Glenna Farms Field to host an opportunity for a total of 72 families to tour their operations and access local produce.
First 5 Fox Valley

First 5 Fox Valley (F5FV) is a backbone organization that coordinates and cultivates community engagement to empower and support every family in building a solid foundation for children in their first five years. Strengthening early childhood systems in communities within Calumet, Outagamie, and Winnebago Counties is supported with data to advance policies while mobilizing referrals and resources that help children thrive. F5FV, a Help Me Grow affiliate, works to ensure families have equitable access to the services they need, when they need them, by connecting families to developmental services and screening for early intervention.

Through a Community Innovation Grant, First 5 Fox Valley collaborated with counties in their area to support the newly organized Help Me Grow Fox Valley affiliate by:

  • Reaching 940 infants and toddlers with development screening and completing 2,664 development screenings.
  • Entering 1,053 families into the Help Me Grow System.
  • Contracting with four part-time resource navigators.
  • Expanding the network of collaborative partners by:
    • Engaging and informing 1,392 people through meetings, presentations, and events.
    • Adding 197 agencies to the resource directory.
    • Hosting two webinars focusing on parent engagement and advocacy.
Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is committed to growing and providing opportunities for its citizens. The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is partnering with the Red Cliff Early Childhood Center, Zhawenimikaang Child Care Center (Child Care Development Fund), Red Cliff Historic Preservation Department, Project LAUNCH, the Red Cliff Minobimaadiziiwin Tribal Farm and the Bayfield School District to implement their community innovation project. This project will help provide educational, cultural, and social/emotional support to all children enrolled and will assist with scholarships for child care families.

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s Community Innovation Grant project prioritized Red Cliff tribal families and trial Early Care Education providers by:

  • Furnishing two classrooms and the outdoor learning area with materials, toys, furniture, extra clothing, snow/rain suits, and equipment.
  • Obtaining the Teaching Strategies Curriculum for infants, toddlers, and preschool.
  • Strengthening culture and language integration through the purchase of artwork from a local tribal artist and using labeling in the classrooms that are in both English and Ojibwemowin.
  • Preparing meals for children using produce and eggs purchased from the tribal farm.
United Way of Green County

United Way of Green County is focused on building partnerships and leveraging resources to create plans for sustainable changes in the community. United Way of Green County is partnering with Green County Development Corporation and Avenues Counseling, LLC to implement their community innovation plan for addressing the child care needs of Green County.

United Way of Green County developed the following programs through their Community Innovation Grant award to support the early education sector and families in minority populations:

  • Providing mental health consultations to 12 different child care providers that resulted in 179 children receiving individual treatments sessions to meet each individual’s need and goal.
  • Holding eight professional development sessions for child care providers and families to build bridges and increase capacity for child care providers and families.
  • Creating a mentorship program that matched experienced providers with new providers or providers seeking mentorship. 46 sessions were conducted and covered a range of topics based upon the mentees needs.
Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health

Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health (WI-AIMH) strives to promote infant mental health through building awareness, promoting professional capacity, fostering partnerships and supporting policies which are in the best interest of infants, young children and their families. WI-AIMH’s community innovation project will provide intentional, thoughtful, and choice-driven professional development and concrete support directly to ECE providers as they act as essential workers during a pandemic. WI-AIMH is partnering with Reach Dane, UW Office of Campus Child Care and Resources (OCCFR), and Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA) to implement their community innovation project.

Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health used Community Innovation Gant funds to increase the skills of Early Care Educators by:

  • Collaborating with county partners to identify and provide outreach and assess the needs of Early Care Educators in their area.
  • Recruiting Early Care Educators to participate in pilot cohorts. 114 of the 139 (82%) participants completed their cohort.
  • Implementing five active cohorts in the areas of Mindful Movement, IMH-Endorsement, Reflective Practice, Pyramid Model E-Modules (three groups), and Developing Leadership.
  • Completing follow up interviews with cohort participants to work towards developing a plant to replicate this project on a wider scale.
  • Providing waivers for cohort participants for IMH Association memberships.

Community Innovation Grant funds are made possible through funding provided by Grant Number 90TP007601 from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Young Learners Tribal Language Revitalization Grants (2020)

In the summer of 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) distributed grant monies for the PDG Young Learners Tribal Language Revitalization (formerly referred to as the 2020 PDG for American Indian Language Revitalization). Grants were distributed on a competitive one-time basis to tribal early childhood education programs or tribal Head Start programs serving American Indian nations and tribal communities of Wisconsin. The work of these grants has carried over into 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The focus of the 2020 grants were to improve the transition to elementary school and academic outcomes, and support reducing achievement gaps while addressing the linguistic and cultural needs of students from American Indian nations and communities in Wisconsin. The funds were used to support startup and collaboration costs (e.g., materials, curriculum development, educator training or professional development).

Other Funding Opportunities

In addition to the Department of Children and Families (DCF), several state agencies, including the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and Division of Administration (DOA), are committed to working together to help build a more sustainable future for Wisconsin’s ECE providers and families. You can view other funding opportunities available through DCF on the Funding Opportunities for Early Care & Education Providers webpage.

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