Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant Program Guidance

Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant Program

The Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant Program has been created for the purpose of expanding access and availability of licensed child care throughout Colorado and especially in areas where there are child care deserts. Eligible programs may apply and include: 1) Currently open and operating licensed programs, serving children birth to five, with a permanent or provisional license which are expanding their current licensed capacity; OR 2) An applicant actively pursuing a child care license through the Division of Early Care & Learning Child Care Licensing Division.


Currently licensed programs and those who are actively seeking a child care license will be eligible for a grant award from $3,000 up to $50,000 in expenses related to the expansion of current capacity or the opening of a new child care program. Programs must serve children ages birth to five to be eligible. 


Child Care Licensing Specialists and Early Childhood Councils will provide support at the local level including offering consultation to prospective programs on how to become licensed, and assisting existing child care programs to expand their licensed capacity. 


“Program” refers to both licensed and those seeking a license that are family child care homes, or child care centers serving children birth to age five. Existing programs that have outstanding violation corrections from a recent inspection or be under the adverse licensing process, must meet these requirements before funds can be awarded. Programs that receive 100% of funding from public sources such as Head Start/Early Head Start or the Colorado Preschool Program will not be eligible. The intent of this grant is to offer working families more access to early education programming. Programs applying for this grant are required to provide full-time programming to be eligible for grant funding. 

A PDF version of this document is attached as well. 


Priority Areas for Funding 

To qualify for an Emerging or Expanding grant, programs must submit an application to request funds for their project, to include a full explanation and budget. Awards will be issued based on the following: 

  • Opening a new licensed family child care home that will serve children birth to age 5.
  • Opening a new licensed child care center that will serve children 6 weeks to age 5.
  • Opening a new licensed classroom in an existing child care center that will serve children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years (reopening an existing classroom does not qualify).
  • Changing the license-type for a family child care home to serve more children
  • Changing an existing classroom to serve more infants and toddlers
  • Related projects, not described above, that will increase the number of licensed child care slots that will serve children to age 5.

Allowable Uses of Grant Funding

Programs that choose to apply for the Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant must explain how the proposed project will assist with increasing the number of child care slots for children birth to age five in Colorado. Allowable costs include any costs associated with the expansion of child care capacity within a Colorado community, especially those that are in desert, rural, or underserved areas of the State. Programs must provide a detailed explanation of their project as well as provide a budget completed on the available template accessible through the grant application. Programs will prepare a budget of the project within the following budget categories:

  1. Coaching - Includes costs associated with coaching services needed to support the expansion of an existing program or the opening of a new program. This could include services to support quality practices, child health consultants, mental health consultants, and other coaching supports as needed, to be explained in the project narrative.
  2. Professional Development - Includes costs associated with training/course work needed to support the expansion or new program. Both training fees and hourly/salary costs for staff to complete the training are allowable costs.
  3. Learning/Classroom Materials (and fees, other) - Includes costs associated with any educational materials, curriculum, Personal Protective Equipment, cleaning supplies, etc. needed to support the expansion or new program. This category would additionally include any fees (licensing, background checks, inspections, etc) or technology needs that are associated with the expansion or new program . Any other costs that are not associated with the other categories should be listed here within the budget template.
  4. Capital Improvements - includes costs associated with the expansion or new program that are more permanent such as construction, flooring, etc. Capital includes both major and minor renovations or improvements. Three bids are required to obtain funding for capital improvements. (NOTE: If programs struggle to get three bids, Two Bids are acceptable for this project). 

Initial and Ongoing Licensed Program Eligibility Criteria

Applications must meet the following requirements in order to be eligible for the Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant:

Applicants applying for a child care license:

  1. Minimum 18 years of age
  2. Apply for a permanent or provisional child care license to serve children between the ages of birth and five years old in the State of Colorado.
  3. Must engage in the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System by earning a minimum Level 2 within 12 months of being issued a permanent license.
  4. Commit to submitting a complete application for a Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) fiscal agreement AND indicate acceptance of CCCAP on your program profile after receiving your license.
  5. Agree to sign a memorandum of understanding with your local early childhood council.
  6. Submit an application for the Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant.

Applicants with an existing child care license

  1. Hold a current, permanent or provisional child care license.
  2. Programs that are currently on probation may not apply until a permanent license is issued. 
  3. Serve children between the ages of 6 weeks and five years.
  4. Must engage in the Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System by earning minimally a quality level two within a 12 month period of grant award, or by June 30, 2022.
  5. Commit to submitting a complete application for a Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) fiscal agreement AND indicate acceptance of CCCAP on your program profile.
  6. Submit an application for the Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant.


Business Process for Grant Distribution and Tracking

Early Childhood Councils in partnership with Child Care Licensing and the Colorado Shines QRIS team will serve as administrators for the Emerging and Expanding Child Care Grant. Programs will submit an application through the Provider Hub.

  1. Licensing Specialists will review the application to ensure licensing requirements are met. A consultation must be completed before funds will be awarded. The Licensing Specialist will mark the application eligible or ineligible based on their discovery. Applications that are ineligible will be communicated to the program and the Early Childhood Council. Applicants will have the option to reapply once licensing requirements are satisfied.
  2. Applications deemed eligible by licensing, will not be marked eligible within the data system until the Early Childhood Council reviews and approves the requested amount and budget. Licensing Specialists will reach out to the assigned Early Childhood Council to ask for that review.
  3. Once an application is marked eligible the requested amounts will be shared via nightly reporting to the ecConnect data system. This will establish the approved budget amounts on the ecConnect system for ECC management..
  4. All eligible applications that include requests for capital improvements, must complete the capital improvement module within the ecConnect system and provide three bids to support the funding allocation. (NOTE: If three bids are not able to be obtained, two bids are acceptable)
  5. All Emerging and Expanding Grant funding will be accessible through a General Accounting Encumbrance (GAE), which is a payment structure whereby each participating Early childhood Council can draw down from the GAE with approval.
  6. Only one Emerging and Expanding award can be issued per license number.
  7. Programs who are also eligible for Colorado Shines Quality Improvement funds, should be encouraged to apply through their Early Childhood Council.
  8. Priority must be given to programs in underserved communities (infant/toddler slot expansion, desert areas, rural areas, etc)
  9. Programs must be willing to work with their Licensing Specialist, Early Childhood Council, engage with Colorado Shines Quality Improvement, apply for a CCCAP fiscal agreement, and sign an MOU with their Early Childhood Council.


Roles and responsibilities

Role of the Licensing Specialist/Supervisor

  • Initial Review of the Application for eligibility
  • Document status within the database notes section throughout  each process of review
  • Collaborate with the Early Childhood Council to review budget details
  • Communicate with the applicant to ensure application information is accurate
  • Complete the Licensing Consultation Guide to determine if the new space is licensable
  • Check for appropriate documentation for the new license or the request for expansion.  

Role of the Early Childhood Council

  • Collaborate with the Licensing Specialist
  •  Review Application details and Descriptions
  • Review budget details for accuracy
  • Communicate with the program throughout the application process
  • Upon application eligibility, issue the Memorandum of Understanding for signature by Program, Council, and Licensing Supervisor
  • Provide support to Program to complete the project description
  • Manage the budget details by gathering the appropriate documentation
  • Submit invoices for reimbursement of expenditures to the Office of Early Childhood
  • Work with the Child Care Quality Unit to approve Capital Expenditures and invoices

Guidance for Programs Completing the Application 

Programs applying for the Emerging and Expanding grant will log into the Provider Hub and then select the Available Grants tile. This will take the applicant to the grant application for the Emerging and Expanding Child Care grant.


Once the application is showing on the page, put in the license number. Programs who have applied for a license are issued a license number that will follow them through the process and remain with the program upon receiving a permanent license. Existing programs will have a license number that they will need to enter. 


When the license number is entered, the data system will validate that the number exists. If an error message appears, be sure to check that the correct license number was entered. If the error persists, the program should contact their Licensing Specialist.


Upon entering the correct license number the application will appear.



The applicant must complete all the fields within the application. Some of the information will be pre-populated based on information contained within the existing licensing database. If any of the information is incorrect, the applicant should contact their Licensing Specialist. 

Parts of the application require uploading documentation. If an applicant rents or leases their space, a letter of support from their landlord is required. This is to be sure that any changes being proposed are acceptable to the owner. 

Additionally, the applicant will need to submit a budget template that supports the amount of funding requested. The template is provided within the application for download; Once completed, the applicant will upload the file within the application. NOTE: We are encouraging all applicants to work with their Early Childhood Council before submitting a budget. 

Programs that are applying must complete the application fully then press “submit” at the bottom of the page. The system will not save data entered unless they program submits the application. The applicant cannot access the application once submitted. 


Once all fields and uploads are completed, the applicant needs to click Apply for Grant .


Early Childhood Council  Access to Applications

Early Childhood Councils will have access to review applications that have been submitted. Council staff (with current Salesforce access), can navigate to the list view of all the submitted applications. To access the list, navigate to the QRIS home page and click on “More” to find the choice labeled “Grant Distribution Statuses'' if for some reason, that label is not under the More tab, click on the pencil, click on “Add More Items” and type in “Grant Distribution Statuses” add this label to your toolbar.

Once you have your Grant Distribution Status, click on this option and find the list of grants submitted.

Each application has a link in which all application information is populated along with the attachments. There are multiple view options. You can view the applications that have been received related to your Council by choosing the list view My E&E Grants.

When viewing grant application details, click on the link under the Grant Distribution Status column. There is also a quick link to the Account record to see the program details, rating level and licensing information. Review attachment(s) by clicking on the Related tab.

As grant applications are submitted, an email will be generated to the Licensing Specialist and the Council. Licensing Specialists will not mark applications as eligible without first consulting with the Early Childhood Council. Council staff will need to review and approve the budget information before a program is marked eligible. If there are any needed changes that should be made (ie the budget worksheet isn’t reflected correctly, or the requested amount needs to be updated), the Council should inform the Licensing Specialist of any needed changes. The QRIS Coordinators and State Licensing Managers have the ability to edit amounts on the application before the Licensing Specialist marks the application as eligible.   

ECC Grant fund management for eligible programs

When the Program is marked eligible in the grant application, a nightly report is generated out of Salesforce and sent to the ecConnect team to update the Sugar data system:

  • Updates will occur twice weekly by the ecConnect support team. 
  • Once the Sugar system is updated, an auto generated MOU will be sent to the Program to sign. The MOU will also need to be signed by the Early Childhood Council and the assigned Licensing Supervisor.
  • Upon completed signatures on the MOU, requisitions will automatically generate in Sugar for approved funding amounts.
  • Just like the existing funding streams, programs will access ecConnect to place requests with E and E funding.
  • Early Childhood Councils are approvers of these requests
  • Funding within the categories of coaching, materials, and Capital improvement may be converted but are not eligible to transfer to other programs.
  • If unspent requisitions are identified, Councils should report these remaining funds to the QRIS Coordinator, so they may be re-allocated to the overall grant funds.
  • The E and E Process document can be found here.

As always, the QRIS Coordinators are available to help navigate this process.