Smart Start Transition Grants

Smart Start Transition Grants

The Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Early Childhood is excited to announce Smart Start Transition Grants. These grants will be administered by INCCRRA and will transition licensed child care programs from the Strengthen and Grow Child Care grants to Smart Start Child Care in the future. Smart Start Transition Grants focus on providing stable and predictable funding in order to improve quality and support workforce development.

 

Smart Start Transition Grant Round 4 Applications are open through April 30, 2024!

Smart Start Transition Grant Schedule

Transition Grants Round 1: October 2023 – December 2023 (Applications available July 10, 2023 – August 10, 2023)

Transition Grants Round 2: January 2024 – March 2024 (Applications available October 2, 2023 – November 3, 2023)

Transition Grants Round 3: April 2024 – June 2024 (Applications available January 2, 2024 – January 31, 2024)

Transition Grants Round 4: July 2024 –September 2024 (Applications available April 1, 2024 – April 30, 2024)

Smart Start Transition Grants will come to an end in September 2024.  Programs are then encouraged to apply for a Smart Start Workforce Grant. Workforce Grant applications will open July 1, 2024 and will cover expenses in October, November, and December 2024.  Visit the Smart Start Workforce Grant webpage for more details on eligibility and application requirements. 

 

The Smart Start Transition Grants are 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 1, 2024, 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 a week, 47 weeks a year

  • at least 10% of program’s current licensed capacity (at time of application) enrolled and funded by CCAP in any one month between January 2022 to date of application

  • less than 75% of total revenues from other public funding streams (e.g., Head Start, Preschool for All)

 

How to Apply:

The Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (INCCRRA) will administer the Smart Start Transition Grants. INCCRRA will provide technical assistance through its 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 Transition Grants 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 a Smart Start Transition Grant Attestation 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. A submitted budget request is required to be eligible for grant funds each round as well.

 

Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)

On April 4, 2022, the federal government changed the unique entity identifier used across the federal government from the DUNS number to the Unique Entity ID (UEI). Entities doing business with the federal government will now require the Unique Entity ID created in SAM.gov. This transition allows the government to streamline the entity identification and validation process, making it easier and less burdensome for entities to do business with the federal government.

pdf UEI Tip Sheet (1.77 MB)  -  pdf Spanish (267 KB)

 

The following items are required to complete a new Smart Start Transition Grant application:

Make sure all reporting for all previous grants are complete and accepted, this includes Child Care Restoration Grants, Child Care Workforce Bonus, and Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants (Rounds 1-6).  Smart Start Transition Grant Round 1 and Round 2 reporting will be required to be approved for Round 4 funds.

 

What is the difference from Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants to the new Smart Start Transition Grants

Strengthen and Grow Child Care Grants

Smart Start Transition Grants

Licensed centers and licensed family child care Same as SGCC
At least 10% of program’s current licensed capacity (at time of application) enrolled and funded by CCAP in any one month between January 2020 to date of application At least 10% of program’s current licensed capacity (at time of application) enrolled and funded by CCAP in any one month between January 2022 to date of application
Less than 75% of total revenues from other public funding streams
(e.g., Head Start, Preschool For All)
Same as SGCC
Were in operation as of March 2021 and continue to care for children today.  Must be licensed, open and caring for children by March 1, 2024,  to apply for Smart Start Transition Grants Round 2. 
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.

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, 47 weeks per year. 

Grant Award Amount

Centers: $25,000/yr or $6,250/qt per classroom

Group Homes: $15,000/yr or $3,750/qt per program

Homes: $10,000/yr or $2,500/qt per program

Grant Award Amount

Centers (Infant-Toddler Classroom): $28,000/yr or $7,000/qt per classroom

Centers (Preschool Classroom): $24,000/yr or $6,000/qt per classroom

Homes and Group Homes: same as SGCC

Social Vulnerability Index Add-On:

10% or 15% (using 2018 SVI)

Social Vulnerability Index Add-On:

10% or 15% (using 2020 SVI)

Allowable Use of Funds

50% of funds must be spent on enhanced personnel

Allowable Use of Funds

75% of funds must be spent on enhanced personnel

 

Smart Start Transition Grants Appeal Process

Applicants for the Smart Start Transition Grants have the right to appeal if they believe the reason for their ineligibility is incorrect. The deadline to submit Round 4 appeals is May 28, 2024. All Round 4 appeals need to be submitted by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and must include a completed appeal form.

Appeals are 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 (at time of application) enrolled in CCAP during any month of 2022-to date of application, AND are still caring for children in CCAP.
  • Programs who are caring for foster children and are receiving payments from DCFS, and would meet the 10% of licensed capacity (at time of application) requirement with these children included.
  • 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)

Appeals will not be accepted for applicants who failed to meet the deadline to apply, submit their required budget request, or renew their Registry Director Portal access on time.

 

Smart Start Transition Grant Reporting

Programs that are eligible for Transition Grant funds and have received their checks, must complete quarterly reporting for each round of funding received. To complete reporting, all programs will need to submit an expense report, narrative survey, and their receipt of approval letter for each quarter. The amounts entered in the expense report can differ from the original budget that was submitted, as long as the subtotal still matches the overall check amount received. Reporting should be completed once funds have been received and spent in full.

Round 3 Transition Grant reporting is due by July 15, 2024.  Reporting for Transition Grant Rounds 1-3 will be required to be completed before programs can be approved for Smart Start Workforce Grant funds.

 

SSTG Dashboard

 

Tip Sheets and Information Resources:

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