Child Care Facility Start-Up Grants

A total of $15 million dollars in federal funding has been allocated for the Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program through Governor Mills’ Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan and Child Care Plan for Maine. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) is administering the Child Care Infrastructure Grant Program through a partnership with CEI.


Anyone interested in starting a child care facility (a child care business outside a home environment) is eligible to apply for a grant covering up to 50% of their start-up costs. Sole proprietors, partnerships, cooperatives, nonprofit organizations and employers are encouraged to apply. Existing child care providers seeking a new (additional) license are welcome to submit an application.

Applicants renovating an existing building may request up to 50% of their start-up costs up to $80,000. Those constructing a new building are eligible for up to 50% of their start-up costs, up to $250,000.

Grant awards received may be used for the following purposes:

  • Purchasing or renting a building and renovating it to deliver high quality child care. Selected examples include adding a window to allow for egress and to add natural light, removing a wall to increase the size of a room, adding an accessible ground-floor bathroom and installing a fire alarm system.
  • Constructing a new building that is designed to enhance a child’s development.
  • Buying educational materials. Selected examples include books, musical instruments, developmentally appropriate toys and consumable supplies, such as paper, paint and chalk.
  • Acquiring indoor furniture and fixtures. Selected examples include tables, chairs, cribs and sleeping mats.
  • Creating an outdoor learning environment. Selected examples include building pathways, gardens or activity centers, such as a mud kitchen.
  • Buying playground equipment. Selected examples include swings, sandboxes, shade areas, playsets and energy-absorbing material.
  • Procuring health and safety supplies and other materials required to be licensed. Selected examples include first aid kits, electrical outlet covers and gates.
  • Having sufficient working capital on hand for the first month. Selected examples include money to cover payroll and children’s food while you register and onboard with the subsidy and USDA food programs.

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Priority Areas

Priority will be given to applications from Aroostook, Franklin, Penobscot, Piscataquis, Somerset and Washington Counties. In addition, applicants committing to the following will receive bonus points:

  • Providing care for infants
  • Providing care for toddlers
  • Providing care for families income-eligible for subsidy
  • Participating in the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program

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Application Process

Renovating an existing building

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis through August 31, 2023, or until all funds are awarded or whichever occurs first. There are two steps to the process. Child Care Facility Start-Up Application 1 includes the basic requirements to be licensed and may take several days to complete. Upon completion and Acceptance of Child Care Facility Start-Up Application 1, candidates will receive Child Care Facility Start-Up Application 2, which includes a business and renovation plan plus a financial forecast.

Constructing a new building

Initial applications (Child Care Facility Start-Up / New License Application 1), which include the basic requirements to be licensed, will be accepted from March 1, 2023 through March 31, 2023. During April 2023, applications will be reviewed and in early May 2023, candidates will be selected to receive Child Care Facility Start-Up / New License Application 2 where they will describe their business and construction plans and provide a financial forecast. Child Care Facility Start-Up / New License Application 2 is due on June 30, 2023. Award recipients will be notified in early August 2023.

The first round of applications for constructing a new building, which began September 1, 2022, has closed. Applicants in this round must submit their Application 1 and Application 2 by December 31, 2022. Applicants applying for a grant to renovate an existing space can apply at any time.

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