What are Smart Start Workforce Grants?

Smart Start Workforce Grants offer child care programs stable, ongoing funds that they need to cover costs and invest in quality staff without burdening families by raising tuition or Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) co-pays. Eligible programs receive consistent funding in advance, and funds will cover the cost of higher wages and operating a classroom. Programs receiving these grants will be required to pay classroom staff a wage floor. These competitive wages will help to attract more staff and meet parents’ needs at a rate that they can afford.

Smart Start Workforce Grants, contingent upon state appropriations, will be available for programs:

  • licensed as a child care center, family child care, or family group child care.
  • licensed and caring for children by the first of the month prior to the opening of applications. For example, if the application opens on July 1, 2024, programs must be licensed, open, and caring for children by June 1, 2024. 
  • that operate as a full-day, full-year program offering eight consecutive hours of care per day, five days per week, 47 weeks per year.
  • For centers – at least 15% of the program’s current licensed capacity (at time of application) enrolled and funded by CCAP in any month in the year prior to submitting an application (e.g., any one month between January 2023 –date of application).
  • For family child care – care for at least 1 child and for family group child care 2 children enrolled and funded by CCAP in any month in the year prior to submitting an application (e.g., any one month between January 2023 – the date of application). 
  • other eligibility requirements may apply.     

“Draft parameters are based on the Governor’s FY25 Budget proposal and are subject to appropriations by the Illinois General Assembly.”

CCRS staff will be contacting all providers that received Smart Start Transition Grants. If you have questions about the Smart Start Workforce Grants, please contact us.

For additional information go to the Smart Start Workforce Grants website.

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