Posted by ICCRR in News on 10/12/2021

Rural Child Care Market Study Grant

October 5, 2021

Governor Reynolds announces funds available to support rural communities - link to news release.

  • Rural Child Care Market Study Grant Program – Provides up to $100,000 to support the use of data and analysis by rural communities to determine the specific needs and solutions for their area. In partnership with First Children’s Finance, funding from the program will empower communities to assess their current child care market environment and develop strategies.


Funding Opportunity Details

Child care is a challenge across rural communities in Iowa and across the nation. However, the solutions are often more complicated than the construction of a new facility. Many factors need to be carefully analyzed to first determine the market feasibility for development of a child care center, expansion of an existing one, or support for in-home providers.

The Rural Child Care Market Study Grant program seeks to support the use of data and analysis by rural communities to determine the specific needs and solutions for their area. Through greater understanding of their geographic market, demographics, competition, and other factors, communities can be armed with the information they need to make proactive steps towards addressing their child care challenges. In partnership with First Children’s Finance, funding from the program will empower communities to assess their current child care market environment and develop strategies.

The program, defined in Iowa Administrative Code, is administered by the Center for Rural Revitalization, a division of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), in consultation with the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative Task Forces and First Children’s Finance.


Project Goals

The Child Care Market Analysis and Strategic Plan by First Children’s Finance is a third-party in-depth analysis of the local child care needs, supply, and gap. This is used by the community in a facilitated process to develop a strategic plan that addresses the identified needs.

First Children’s Finance will first research existing demographic data and partner with the grantee community to collect data from direct surveys of local parents, employers, and child care providers. Detailed information about the local child care gap will help the community determine the number and types of child care spaces that would be reasonable to meet the need.

First Children’s Finance will facilitate a series of 4 strategic planning sessions to help the community develop a vision and strategic goals with detailed action steps, expected outcomes, and impacts.

The applicant will receive a full report summarizing the demographics, survey results, the child care gap, and the strategic goals with action steps for addressing the need. At the conclusion of the project, First Children’s Finance will present the key findings of the market analysis along with the strategic goals in a community meeting coordinated by the Steering Committee.


Eligible Use of Funding

The Rural Child Care Market Study Grant Program provides funding for market data collection, analysis, and development of strategic goals for child care through First Children’s Finance.


Eligible Applicants

The following entities are eligible to apply:

  • City and county governments or federally recognized tribal governments physically located in Iowa;
  • 501(c)3 or 501(c)6 nonprofit agencies and foundations;  
  • Public and private schools that serve grades pre-K through 12 and are physically located in Iowa; and
  • Higher education institutions located in Iowa.

The study must take place in and benefit a community in Iowa with a population of 20,000 or fewer and not contiguous to a city with a population of 40,000 or greater. If a county-wide application, must be within one of the 88 least populous counties in Iowa. Any eligible applicant may submit an application that includes one or more partners and may apply on behalf of multiple cities or an entire county if the county is one of the 88 least-populous counties in Iowa. 


Eligible Project Requirements

Requirements for Rural Child Care Market Study Grant awards include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Applicants must demonstrate the capacity for grants administration. 
  • Applications must identify and describe any other sources of funding for the proposed activities.
  • Applications must provide $5,000 cash match.
  • Applications must agree to contract with First Children’s Finance for completion of the market study and strategic goals.


Grant Request Amount

Grant Recipients will be awarded $10,000. Grantees will receive one market study and one set of goals, regardless of the geographic area submitted or numbers of partnering communities.  


Match Requirement

Applicants are required to demonstrate investment in the project process by providing a $5,000 cash match. The cash match must be secured, dedicated to eligible expenses, a legitimate part of the project and must be expended within the eligible funding period. Cash match constitutes actual cash contributed to direct project expenses by the applicant or other funding sources. The $5,000 match requirement may be raised through a combination of public and private sources but may not include in-kind donations of goods or services, unsecured funding or loans. Funding from state government already being used as match from another program, including other funds from the IEDA, cannot be used to meet the match requirement.


Funding Period

All project activities and incurred expenses must occur within the eligible contracted funding period of January 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023. Funding is awarded on a reimbursement basis after expenses have been incurred for approved project activities within the eligible funding period. Expenses incurred before or after the eligible funding period are not eligible for reimbursement.


Disbursement of Funds

Disbursements will be made on a reimbursement basis. Disbursement claims must be for an amount equal to or greater than $500 per request. All claims must be made through When submitting a claim, the following items are required:

  • An invoice and proof of payment.
  • A status report for the claim period. Status reports must be received once a quarter. If no funds are requested, recipients should still file a status report.
  • The IEDA may request additional documentation as needed 


Quarterly Reports

Each quarter, the recipient must provide an update on the percentage towards completion and a narrative of the activities taken place.   

Recipients shall also provide a narrative description of any deviations from the proposed timeline, tasks and objectives during the reporting period. If the reported deviations will have an impact on the remainder of the project, the recipient must also notify the program manager via email.


Final Report

  • The final report will be submitted via within 120 days of the project completion date.
  • The IEDA will withhold 5% of project funds until the final report is received and approved by the program manager.
  • The final report shall contain the following information:
    • Executive Summary 
    • Timeline of the completion of each goal or objective
    • Narrative description of grant activities undertaken to support the project
    • Narrative description of the achievements of the project
    • The benefit the end product provides or will provide
    • Narrative description of any deviation from the original budget, timeline or any grant activity


Online Application Submission

Applicants must submit an application via IowaGrants, an online application portal. Applications will not be accepted in any other format. Late, incomplete or ineligible applications will not be accepted. Applicants must create a login to view the full application for the program.

Applications will be reviewed for completion, eligibility, and adherence to published guidelines. Eligible applications will be referred for a competitive review by a volunteer panel, including the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative Task Force members, First Children’s Finance staff and expert professionals (grant review committee). The grant review committee reserves the right to recommend conditional funding and partial funding. Funding recommendations will be submitted by the committee to the executive director of the IEDA for consideration and approval. The applicant’s authorized official will receive award notification. All funding decisions are final.


Local Child Care Steering Committee

Applicants are asked to establish a local steering committee to guide the process and serve as a liaison between First Children’s Finance and the community. It is recommended that the steering committee be comprised of seven to 10 individuals such as elected officials, school administrators, child care providers, chamber or economic development staff, representatives from real estate and finance, non-profits, major employers, and residents; who also share an interest and commitment in addressing local child care needs.  Additional guidance can be provided to grant recipients by First Children’s Finance after award.

If you have any questions, please connect with your CCR&R Child Care Consultant or First Children's Finance.


Tags: rural grant , grant , funding opportunity , first children's finance

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