child care provider shaking handsDream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Grant Program

The Preschool Development Grant provides $8.1 million in funding for the Dream Up! grant program. Through this program, 30 communities will receive strategic planning support and $75,000 in grant funding. Additional $5,000 stipends will be allocated to participating child care providers who submit updated business plans during the strategic planning process. Through a collaborative community approach, teams of community stakeholders, will work to evaluate, plan, sustain, and expand existing child care, and support new child care programs.

Applications should be submitted by a team of invested community members. Teams are encourage to include a cross-sector of professionals. Team representatives may include (but are not limited to):

  • Local business leaders
  • Community and civic organizations
  • Economic development programs
  • Child care programs
  • School districts
  • Local government
  • City or county administrations

Individual child care programs are not eligible for this program as a stand-alone applicant, but may be a part of the team.

Applications for Dream Up! have now closed. Look for the next round of Dream Up! applications in early 2023.


 

Grant Program Partner: First Children’s Finance

First Children’s Finance will engage with up to 30 communities throughout Wisconsin to address their child care gaps and help them progress to a sustainable supply of child care. This project of strategic supply and capacity building on a community level, along with evaluation, monitoring and reporting, will consist of five main activities:

  1. Design a competitive process for selecting 30 communities for strategic supply-building consultation
  2. Consult on community strategic supply-building efforts
  3. Disseminate community implementation grants
  4. Guide development of business improvement plans, cohort learning opportunities, and stipends for providers
  5. Manage the Dream Up! grant program

First Children’s Finance is a national nonprofit organization that provides loans and business development assistance to child care businesses serving low- and moderate-income families. They address the business and finance needs of child care in three different ways: building the financial sustainability of child care entrepreneurs, partnering with communities to preserve and grow their child care supply, and influencing state and federal systems to provide supports and investments needed to sustain child care businesses. Learn more about First Children’s Finance.

Video: Reflections on the Community Experience with First Children’s Finance

Hear from Rick Bonlender as he shares his experience working with First Children's Finance in his former community: Renville County, Minnesota. 

 

 

Dream Up! Webinars

Project Growth Kick-Off Webinar

Join DCF and other project partners to hear about Project Growth and its two grant programs: Partner Up! and Dream Up! You’ll learn more about the programs and why child care is so important to Wisconsin’s economy.

Watch the recorded Kick-Off webinar (Passcode: 2=LU3J&%).

Dream Up! Informational Webinar

Watch the recorded Dream Up! webinar (Passcode: 0h&u#8Zb).

Additional Resources

Scoring Criteria and Priority Consideration

Priority Consideration

Priority will be given to communities who:

  • Have desert status
  • Lack infant/toddler care
  • Need expanded hours 
  • Show readiness to collaborate across sectors to identify short- and long-term supports for sustainable child care business models
  • Have evidence of commitment to equity and inclusion in the community’s core team engagement and stated goals for the grant

Notes:

  • Evaluators will rate the quality of data provided by applicants as evidence of their community's needs, including but not limited to whether or not they meet the above priorities.
  • We are not prioritizing communities that received DWD Workforce Innovation Grant funds

Scoring Criteria

Dream Up! applicants are encouraged to list 8-15 core team members and 3 alternates from a variety of sectors, but must have a minimum of two team members to be scored.

Updated 4/4/2022

Frequently Asked Questions

Dream Up! Grant Program (Round 1) Timelines

  • Grant applications period will run February 28, 2022 - April 4, 2022 at 5 p.m. CST
  • Contracts will be awarded by May 31, 2022 (with funding distributed when Strategic Supply-Building Plans are completed)
  • Orientation for awardees will also begin in May 2022

Do I have to be a regulated provider to participate in Dream Up! grants?

Providers need to be regulated (i.e., licensed or certified, but not necessarily participating in YoungStar) in order to receive the Dream Up! stipend. First Children’s Finance will partner with providers and address the needs of the communities and child care providers in three different ways: building the financial sustainability of child care entrepreneurs, partnering with communities to preserve and grow their child care supply, and influencing state and federal systems to provide supports and investments needed to sustain child care businesses.

Who Can Apply for Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Program? (Geography)

Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Program is for teams of community stakeholders to address the child care needs of their communities.  

Communities eligible to apply include:

  • Native & indigenous communities
  • Neighborhoods with defined boundaries in urban areas
  • Rural areas no bigger than a county
  • Suburban/exurban community
  • An area like a zip code, school district, or 4 small cities who join together

Who Can Apply Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Program? (Participants)

Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building program is for teams of up to 15 members invested in development of child care programming in their community

Teams may include:

  • Local business leaders​
  • Community and civic organizations​
  • Economic development programs​
  • Child care programs​
  • School districts​
  • Local government​
  • City or county administrations​
  • Parent groups

Teams should include a cross sector of community leaders and preferably teams of 8-15 members. Individual child care programs are NOT eligible for the Dream Up! program as a stand-alone applicant but may be a part of the team.

What are the expectations/ requirements of the Core Team lead and estimated time commitment associated with each aspect of the role?

The Core Team Lead will be the primary contact with First Children’s Finance for the duration of the project. During the application process, if there are any questions, the Core Team Lead will be contacted. The Core Team Lead is expected to attend a Core Team Lead meeting (one hour) and all four Strategic Supply-Building Planning meetings (two hours each). The Core Team Lead will work with First Children’s Finance to find a location to hold meetings, coordinate ongoing Core Team meetings, and follow up with the Core Team needs to achieve their goals. First Children’s Finance will actively support the Core Team Lead through this process. Community projects can take time; these ongoing meetings typically are bi-weekly or monthly for the Core Team to achieve their goals. The time commitment could be a few hours a month to several hours a month depending on the goals set by the Core Team. The Core Team Lead will be the primary contact for the grant award, funding distribution, and reporting for the project.

What roles and commitments do other members of the Core Team have?

Every member of the Core Team should participate in the four Strategic Supply-Building Planning meetings (two hours each) to develop the team’s Strategic Supply-Building Plan on how funds will be utilized and the child care challenges will be addressed. After the plan is developed, each Core Team member should actively work to achieve the goals stated in the Strategic Supply-Building Plan; this will be time outside of Strategic Supply-Building Plan meetings. Community projects can take time; these ongoing meetings are typically bi-weekly or monthly for the Core Team to achieve their goals. The time commitment could be a few hours a month to several hours a month depending on the goals set by the Core Team. Teams should utilize up to three alternative members if the initial team lead is unable to fulfill their duties.

If I am a child care provider, how can I participate in Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Program?

  • Child care providers are not able to apply on their own for the Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Program.
  • Child care providers can be a part of the team of community members that apply for the Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Program.
  • Child care providers in selected Dream Up! communities will have the opportunity to participate in Child Care Business Leadership Cohort trainings. Providers who fully participate in Business Leadership Cohorts in their community will be eligible for $5,000 stipends for their programs (Funding restrictions apply - funding cannot be used for capital improvements, definition 2 CFR Ch. II § 200.1).

How will the “existing community child care needs” be determined for the Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Program? What data sources or metrics should applicants use?

Please provide evidence from a range of sources you can access at this time. The application will be awarded points based on how much evidence is offered by your team, which could be testimonial or anecdotal in addition to quantitative. Once the grant is awarded, First Children's Finance will assist communities in additional data collection opportunities to fill in missing or incomplete data.

Here are some data sources you might explore:

How will existing community needs be evaluated by those scoring the applications?

Evaluators will rate the quality of data provided by applicants as evidence of their community's needs, including whether or not they meet the priorities. However, all questions and responses within the application will be rated and will offer potential for your application to earn points. The priorities section is just one of several rating scales that will be applied to the application. Please provide evidence from a range of sources you can access at this time. The application will be awarded points based on how much evidence is offered by your team, which could be testimonial or anecdotal, in addition to quantitative. Once the grant is awarded, First Children's Finance will assist communities in additional data collection opportunities to fill in missing or incomplete data. See list of data sources to consider exploring in the above FAQ.

How can Dream Up! communities use their grant funds?

Funding for Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building can be used for a variety of projects and activities to increase the supply and sustainability of child care programs in their community. Selected communities will have the discretion to use the funding to support their Strategic Supply Plan.*

*Funding cannot be used for capital improvements, definition 2 CFR Ch. II § 200.1

What happens if the grant doesn't get extended? Would the program end or be fully on employers / local programs to continue?

  • The Dream Up! program is intended to support a community-created plan to build and sustain child care supply. Part of this process includes training and technical assistance to address ongoing feasibility and funding of projects. This may include seeking additional community investments, financial analysis for child care providers, and exploring additional funding resources. The community implementation funds may or may not be used by existing child care providers.
  • Providers in communities selected for the Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building Program will be eligible to participate in Business Leadership Cohorts where they will receive additional training and resources around managing their business and finances. We hope these resources will provide child care businesses the opportunity to evaluate their program’s funding resources to maximize current funding and prepare for funding changes in the future. 

Be sure to check out the Partner Up! grant program if you want to explore that opportunity.

Who can I go to if I have more questions about Dream Up!? 

  • If you have additional questions about the application or the program after reading these FAQs, you can reach out to:
  • First Children’s Finance will provide resources and referrals to child care businesses who are not accepted in Dream Up! to other Wisconsin organizations that may be able to support their child care business needs.

Can a school district considering opening child care to meet our rural care needs apply for the Dream Up! grant for our employees to use the daycare?

Stand-alone programs are not eligible for the Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building program. A school district could work with city, county, and/or other local business and community leaders to submit an application for the Dream Up! grant program.

Are child care providers eligible to apply for both grant programs (Partner Up! and Dream Up!)?

Individual child care programs are NOT eligible for Dream Up! Child Care Supply-Building program as a stand-alone applicant but may be a part of a team. Child care programs who are either applying for a Partner Up! grant as a business or receiving contracted slots from another business applying for Partner Up! are still eligible to be part of a Dream Up! core team.

What resources may be beneficial for communities to turn to when answering application questions?

Are you contacting area businesses to tell them about this?

Information will be and has been sent to local partners to be distributed throughout communities in a variety of ways including:

  • Emails
  • Social media posts
  • Website updates
  • Billboards
  • Radio, TV, newspaper, and online ads
  • Other media

Program Funding

This publication was made possible by Grant Number 90TP007601 from the Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Child Care, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Dream Up! Chart and Sample Scenarios

The following scenarios are fictional examples to illustrate how a Dream Up! application and award may work. Each Wisconsin community will differ in how they organize their core teams, define their needs, plan, and allocate funds. If one of these scenarios resonates with your community or your hopes and dreams, or if they spark other ideas for you, please consider submitting an application!

Dream Up! Informational Chart

Download an informational chart to learn more about how the Dream Up! process will work.

Rural Community Scenario

The Community and Child Care Challenge

In a small-town employer forum, the school district and health care system both note their challenges around attracting and maintaining female workers with young children during the pandemic, which significantly exacerbates their teacher and nurse shortages. Other employers agree that they’ve lost out on hires who considered moving to the town, but ultimately declined due to lack of child care in the community. Manufacturing notes that their second shift workers are regularly complaining about the lack of child care.

Information Gathering

The group decides that they should take action and reaches out to their local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency for data around the number of child care slots in their community and how many are available. When they meet with the CCR&R team they learn that the area is experiencing a major child care shortage, with about one slot for every four children aged birth to 5. There is also only one family care provider with eight slots for children ages birth to 12 that is open past 5:30 p.m. The CCR&R shares information on Dream Up! with the team, and suggests they reach out to local child care providers. They interview a few child care providers about their wait lists and challenges, and hear that they all experience at least minor headaches managing the business aspects of their program.

Coming Together: The Application Phase

Together, they begin to recruit others to sign on to their Dream Up! application, including the child care providers, the United Way, their local economic development agency and Chamber of Commerce, the county health/human services staff, a Family Resource Center director, and a town council member. Next, they elect a lead who gathers more data about the town’s demographics, equity concerns, child care and after school programming, family supporting programs, and the number of children in early childhood special education or early intervention programs. They also consider the quality of existing programs and whether there are any unregulated child care providers operating. With this sense of what already exists in their community and what is missing, they draft and submit their application.

Development of Strategic Supply-Building Plans and the Implementation Phase

Once the community is selected for Dream Up!, they begin consultations with First Children’s Finance to help them work on their Strategic Supply-Building Plans to renovate a vacant city building into a new community center with early care and education, after school programming, and offices for additional early childhood program and services. A second feature of their Strategic Supply-Building Plan includes subsidized housing costs and hiring bonuses for anyone willing to complete entry-level child care teacher training. Last, the local businesses participating in Dream Up! agree to offer match funding to employee flex spending accounts to pay for child care at any local licensed provider. The First Children’s Finance facilitators guide the whole process and help them decide where to invest the $75,000 first, plus where to look for more funding going forward.

Existing licensed or certified child care programs from this community and another rural community that was awarded a Dream Up! grant gather in the free Business Leadership Cohort trainings to enhance their business plans and they each receive a $5,000 stipend for their effort. This step is happening while the core teams are developing their Strategic Supply-Building Plan. At the end of the program, they feel much more united as a community network helping one another out and appreciated the chance to learn from others outside their community, too. They even decide to join a regional shared services network to share a sub pool, health care consultation, and materials for their programs!

Urban Community Scenario

The Community and Child Care Challenge

An urban/suburban community was hit hard by business closure during COVID-19. Most employers in the area could not offer their staff the opportunity to work from home, resulting in more cases, exposure of children, and staff quitting their jobs to care for their children. Many families pulled out of child care due to fears about illness, routine child care closures, and/or inability to pay. At the same time, early care and education teachers started leaving in high numbers and their former classrooms sit empty.

Information Gathering

As the number of local COVID-19 cases fell, a local job training center began searching for new opportunities to create local jobs and help the unemployed get back to work, so they reached out to many area employers. Lots of issues came up, ranging from housing to transportation and job training, with child care as the most frequently-cited issue. Some employers were willing to consider offering space for child care, others could fund some hiring and training or start-up costs for child care, but all want one thing: more child care so they can hire more staff!

Coming Together: The Application Phase

The group brings in local philanthropists, churches, and the community teen center, all within two adjacent zip codes. They identify three local child care center directors who are fired up about wanting to make sure they can pay higher wages and benefits to maintain their long-time staff, along with a family, friend, neighbor provider who never formalized her business. Pretty soon, everybody is committed and motivated so they divvy up the application sections. Some do online research on the WECA, DCF, and local government websites. They cite many facts from the Preschool Development Grant Sandbox where they find data about unemployment and children in poverty, as well as child care access, affordability, quality and workforce information further illuminate the challenges families face in their community, which they can already recite from so many conversations. They also use the child care desert map to get a visual of how many programs are within a 20-minute commute of their community members, keeping in mind that deserts are defined as communities with more than three children per child care slot. Each member reports their share of the information needed for their Dream Up! application, and the job training center director acts as core team lead to submit it.

Development of Strategic Supply-Building Plans and the Implementation Phase

After the community is selected for Dream Up!, First Children’s Finance provides support through consultation to help them write up a multi-pronged Strategic Supply-Building Plan that invests in recruiting new teachers and offering apprenticeships at the three child care centers participating in the core team. They also invest in outreach to job training centers, high schools, and local colleges to help identify candidates for early care and education work. Their $75,000 Dream Up! grant also provides start-up money for three new providers—two family care programs in neighborhood homes and one center to open in an area church’s education wing.  They can’t use the funds toward building, renovation, or vehicle purchases, so the group once again pulls together their data and applies for two other grants from local foundations, as suggested by their philanthropist core team member.

Over twenty licensed or certified community providers complete the free Business Leadership Cohort trainings where they learn how to edit or create business plans. This step is happening while the core teams are developing their Strategic Supply-Building Plan. They’re now close to meeting requirements for a 3 Star program in YoungStar and they each receive a $5,000 stipend from Dream Up! that they decide to put toward staff hiring and training, retention bonuses, and some new classroom materials.