Funding Opportunities for Early Care & Education Providers red money bag or grant icon

Home to the country’s first kindergarten and a state constitution that champions early education, Wisconsin’s commitment to early care and education (ECE) is as old as the state itself. Wisconsin has many strong ECE programs, partnerships, and innovative cross-sector collaborations supporting its youngest citizens. Yet significant challenges remain, and more must be done to reach and effectively support all vulnerable and underserved children and families across the state.

An estimated 54% of Wisconsin residents live in a child care desert, defined as “any census tract with more than 50 children under age 5 that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots.”[1] A lack of equitable child care access and quality ECE options across the state is having fundamentally negative impacts on Wisconsin’s families, its workforce, and its economy as a whole. The estimated annual state economic benefit of having affordable child care statewide is over $3 billion.[2] 

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role the state’s ECE system plays for both families and businesses alike. Now, more than ever, Wisconsin’s work to address pervasive challenges around equity, access, quality and affordability within the ECE system are imperative to helping the state move forward.

  • Improving recruitment, retention, and support of a high-quality and effective ECE workforce to rebuild this system in the wake of the public health emergency will be a critical undertaking.
  • Partnering with local business and community leaders to develop plans for ongoing support and financing of the ECE system is a necessary next step to help re-open Wisconsin’s economy.
  • Without a robust, well-funded ECE system, Wisconsin’s ability to move toward economic recovery will not be realized to its full potential.
  • Investing in ECE in the wake of COVID-19 will continue to be a strong investment in a more secure economic future.

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. The funding opportunities listed in the table below can be used to invest in worker training, increase equity and eliminate disparities in ECE, move or expand existing child care centers, and cover the cost of COVID-related sick leave. 

This page will be updated as more funding opportunities become available. Additionally, ECE providers are encouraged to subscribe to the Child Care Listerv to receive up-to-date information on funding opportunities and ECE-related news.


[2]  accessed 9/7/21


Funding Opportunity Lead
Funding Uses Due
Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program DCF   Monthly payments are available to eligible to regulated providers. The funds can be used to increase access to high-quality care and fund workforce recruitment and retention efforts. Monthly—view online calendar
Mainstreet Bounceback Grants WEDC $10,000 The Mainstreet Bounceback Grants provide funding to new or existing businesses and non-profit organizations moving into vacant properties in Wisconsin’s downtowns and commercial corridors. Funds can be used to pay leases or mortgages, operational expenses and other business costs related to the newly opened location. The program is open to new or existing businesses opening a new location or expanding operations in a vacant commercial space as of January 1, 2021. June 30, 2022


Recent Funding Opportunities by DCF include: