Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants

Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants

Illinois was awarded federal relief dollars through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to ensure that child care programs can weather the pandemic – and emerge from it stronger than before. So far, this funding has been used to provide Child Care Restoration Grants and the Child Care Workforce Bonus program. In 2022, the Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grant (SGCC) will provide stable, predictable funding to support high-quality child care and invest in our critical child care workforce.

For the next phase of stabilization funding, IDHS Division of Early Childhood (DEC) will be offering Strengthen & Grow Child Care grants. These grants were designed to align with the Early Childhood Funding Commission’s recommendations.

  • The new grants were designed taking all funding streams into account to maximize access to stable and predictable funding in order to improve quality and support workforce development.
  • These grants prioritize equitable and transparent funding across all of Illinois, focusing on those hardest hit by the pandemic, including those providers operating without existing grant-based revenue.
  • Programs that operate without predictable grant funding from sources like Head Start and Preschool for All struggle the most to pay reasonable wages and make investments in quality programming.
  • In alignment with what the Funding Commission heard from the field, the SGCC grants will provide the additional resources that providers with minimal existing grant-based public funding need so that they can make necessary investments in workforce development and quality programming.
  • As recommended by the Funding Commission, the State can no longer make our investments in early childhood one funding stream at a time, but rather must take all sources of programs’ funding into consideration. To achieve truly equitable funding, we must intentionally support those providers who have historically had the least funding stability, especially where they are serving low income families. The SGCC grant focuses on supporting these providers.
  • For those providers not eligible for SGCC, DEC will be extending CCRG funding for an additional six-months at 30% of initial CCRG funding in order to provide a more stable offramp of stabilization funds.

Applications are Now Open and the Deadline is Extended! 

Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grant applications are now open! The program will start in February 2022 and run through January 2023. Programs who submit applications and are deemed eligible will receive funding beginning in February 2022 for the first quarter (February 2022 – April 2022). Programs must opt-in each quarter, similar to the Child Care Restoration Grant (CCRG).

Quarters will run as follows:

  • SGCC Round 1: February – April 2022
  • SGCC Round 2: May – July 2022
  • SGCC Round 3: August – October 2022
  • SGCC Round 4: November – January 2023

Applications will close on Friday, February 4, 2022.

Programs are strongly encouraged to prepare their applications in advance to ensure smooth processing and speedy awards. Reviewing the tip sheets and FAQ at the bottom of this webpage will help programs prepare a successful application and budget.  

pdf SGCC Flyer (393 KB)  - pdf Spanish (412 KB)
pdf SGCC FAQ (454 KB)  -  pdf Spanish (464 KB)

Watch this new technical assistance webinar that prepares programs to apply for an SGCC grant and walks through the online application. Do not start the application without watching this webinar first! 

document SGCC TA Webinar Slides (1.60 MB)  - document Spanish (7.65 MB)
SGCC Technical Assistance Webinar Recording - You will need to enter your name and email address to access the recording.  


The Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants will be available to all programs who:

  • are licensed as a child care center, child care home, or group child care home. 
  • were in operation as of March 2021 and continue to care for children today. 
  • operate full-day and full-year, defined as a program that is open and offering at least eight consecutive hours of care per day, five days per week. 
  • enrolled 10% or more of the program’s licensed capacity with children in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) during any month in 2020 or 2021 and currently participate in CCAP.   
  • receive no more than 50% of total early childhood program/site revenue from Early Childhood Block Grant funding (including Preschool for All (PFA) and/or Prevention Initiative (PI)) or Head Start/Early Head Start. 
  • do not accept a 2022 Child Care Restoration Extension Grant award (programs can apply for either 2022 CCRG Extension or SGCC, but not both) 

The Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grant will provide child care homes with $2,500 per program per quarter, group child care homes with $3,750 per program per quarter, and child care centers with $6,250 per classroom per quarter.

Additional add-on funds are available for programs in areas where families are facing greater systemic barriers, such as low employment, poverty, or crowded housing. Funds will be awarded in advance of each quarter so that programs can plan to incorporate them into their regular operating budgets, creating predictable and stable funding models.  For more information on the Social Vulnerability Index and how this could increase your grant payment review the pdf SGCC Preparing to Apply Tipsheet (414 KB) .  

What to Expect:

Programs will be required to spend at least 50% of their quarterly award on new investments to recognize, reward, and adequately compensate their workforce to acknowledge the key role that early childhood staff play to deliver high-quality care.

Programs can spend the remaining award on additional workforce investments or can use funding to enhance their child care environments and the early childhood education programming they deliver. Funding can also be used in a program’s continuing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Programs will be required to provide a budget as part of the application. Use this  pdf budget tip sheet (442 KB)  to begin planning your budget now. Programs will also be required to provide monthly reporting after each grant month. 


How to Apply:

The Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) will administer the Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants. INCCRRA will provide technical assistance through their website and via email throughout the life of the grant. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions. 

The application for SGCC is available to programs in the Gateways Registry Director Portal. If your program meets the eligibility requirements above and you do not have the option to apply, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for technical assistance.

All applicants will need to sign an SGCC pdf round one attestation (359 KB) confirming the information they provide is true and accurate, that they meet all required eligibility requirements, and they agree to meet the terms and conditions of the grant agreement. 


SGCC 2022 Appeal Process

Round 1 Appeals covering February, March, & April 2022 are available now! 

Applicants for the Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grant (SGCC) have the right to appeal if they have been deemed ineligible to apply for SGCC or believe the reason for their ineligibility is incorrect.

Appeals will be accepted for the following reasons:

  • Programs found Ineligible due to CCAP Enrollment Percentages if programs can prove they had at least 10% of their licensed capacity enrolled in CCAP during any month of 2020 or 2021, AND are still caring for children in CCAP.
  • Programs who are caring for foster children and are receiving payments from DCFS.
  • Programs who ran into issues when applying, and have been in contact with the help desk to try and troubleshoot. (Proof of communication will need to be submitted with appeal documentation)

All appeals must be submitted by Friday, February 18, 2022, in writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Appeals submitted after February 18, 2022, will not be accepted.

Appeals due to missing the deadline to apply, without a valid reason, will not be reviewed. The deadline to apply for Round One is February 4, 2022.

pdf SGCC Appeals Procedure (213 KB)
pdf SGCC Appeals Form (214 KB)


The following items are required to complete a new SGCC grant application:

Tip sheets and information Resources:

Helpful Links:

 

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