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New One-of-Its-Kind Flexible Grant Program Reaches Over 90% of D.C.’s Child Development Homes

Child Development Homes (CDHs) offer a home-like, flexible childcare option. These programs played a key role in supporting families and children throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic and oftentimes provide culturally supportive alternatives to center-based care.

In Washington, D.C., childcare grant programs and funders have historically overlooked CDHs— building grant eligibility around traditional childcare centers while often leaving CDHs ineligible for the same funding.

With funding from the Bainum Family Foundation, Reinvestment Fund established the Early Learning Support Grant (ELSG) program to support CDHs in a meaningful and impactful way, while also addressing historical disparities in funding. Reinvestment Fund created this one-of-its-kind grant program to reach every CDH in the District and provide a one-time $5,000 flexible grant catered to provider needs. There are currently a reported 100 licensed CDHs operating in the District.

When looking at past funding efforts and hearing from providers throughout the district, it was apparent that previous funding was overly prescriptive and assumptive of provider needs. “During initial outreach with CDH business-owners in the District, many felt previous funding did not listen to their needs. Without being able to speak with every provider on what they needed, we made our eligible expenses as broad as possible to meet a variety of needs,” Program Manager, Jacob Kurtz stated.

With ELSG, we designed a flexible program to address the range of needs expressed by providers as well as barriers that can prevent providers from accessing funding. Before launching the program, we engaged providers in the District and determined that many face technology challenges and language barriers. We developed an internal system to meet the high need for technical support and built external partnerships to meet the language needs of providers.

Designing a grant program that all providers are eligible for, we had to also intentionally dismantle systemic barriers to receiving the funds. This technical support included multiple in-person application events, multiple webinars (all of which were offered in both English and Spanish), hours of phone calls, and one-on-one virtual support sessions. Reinvestment Fund worked with Alboum Translation Services to translate support and informational materials in Spanish and to offer live interpretation for virtual sessions. Additionally, we developed strong partnerships with DC Family Child Care Association (DCFCCA) and the Multicultural Spanish Speaking Providers Association (MSSPA)—both supported the program from start to finish and have become strong partners for technical support and thought partners as we continue our work.


This grant made my program a more safe and secure environment. It enabled me to make changes that were needed to remain in compliance with license requirements. Without it I would’ve created a fundraiser which rarely covers all that you need.

We have made a total of 93 grants to CDHs throughout D.C., totaling $465,000. These grants have gone to cover the costs of various amenities and facility repairs, including materials for learning, classroom books, uniforms for children, printers and computers to support business needs, bilingual materials, sheds and storage for outdoor equipment, security improvements such as cameras and fencing, coffee makers, microwaves, and massage chairs to support staff comfort and health. Not only did the flexibility of the grant impact providers, but its non-competitiveness fostered and strengthened the community of CDHs in D.C.

“I have witnessed these dedicated childcare providers as incredibly nurturing and supportive, fostering profound connections not only with the children and families they serve but also with each other, forming a robust network of mutual support,” Sharon Neilson, a Program Manager with Reinvestment Fund, stated. To create a grant that is both flexible and noncompetitive required a willing and innovative funder: in this case, the Bainum Family Foundation.

“The Bainum Family Foundation embodies the understanding of what is needed in childcare for our future leaders to succeed. The foundation has forever placed a footprint in my facility and heart,” Angelique Speight-Marshall, the owner of Ms. P’s Unique Daycare Services CDH and an ELSG grantee, said.

CDHs often operate on small budgets with tight margins, leading them to make challenging decisions in purchasing and expenses where some needs go unmet. Through this flexible approach, providers can make necessary investments in their businesses in a way that is both rewarding and adapted to their needs. The diversity of grant use from the 93 CDHs shows that provider needs are vast, and entrusting providers to determine how they use the funding results in better-equipped childcare homes for our youngest citizens and their caretakers.

Learn more about the grant program and upcoming opportunities here.


I have witnessed these dedicated childcare providers as incredibly nurturing and supportive, fostering profound connections not only with the children and families they serve but also with each other, forming a robust network of mutual support.

To Learn More, Contact:

Sharon Mullings-Neilson
Program Manager, ECE Client Engagement and Technical Assistance
Jacob Kurtz
Program Manager, Early Childhood Education

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