San Diego County Childcare Provider Grant Program

A joint effort by the County of San Diego, The San Diego Foundation, YMCA of San Diego County, and Child Development Associates

County of San Diego seal
The San Diego Foundation logo
YMCA logo
Child Development Associates

Affordable and Safe Childcare Is Essential to our Economic Recovery and the Ongoing Health of our Region

Recognizing this, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to provide $25 million in CARES Act funding to establish the San Diego County Childcare Provider Grant Program in August of 2020. To distribute these funds to eligible childcare providers, the County of San Diego partnered with The San Diego Foundation, Child Development Associates and YMCA of San Diego County to manage the application, verification and grantmaking process.

The program helped more than 3,300 childcare providers keep their doors open amid incredibly challenging economic conditions. In all, more than 81,000 children were served in 90 zip codes across the county, allowing working parents to stay on the job, put food on the table, and contribute to our economy.

screenshot of news article announcing $25 million in grants for San Diego County childcare providers

Program Highlights

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children served

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childcare providers assisted

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Licensed Family Childcare Providers received a grant (74% of total awards)

The average grant received by Licensed Family Childcare Providers was $4,239, an average of $420 per child served

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Licensed Childcare Centers received a grant (22% of total awards)

The average grant received by Licensed Childcare Centers was $13,769, an average of $235 per child served

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License-Exempt Group Care providers received a grant (3% of total awards)

The average grant received by License-Exempt Group Care Providers was $22,307, an average of $182 per child served

Types of Providers

Category 1

Licensed Family Childcare Home

Small family childcare providers (licensed to care for a maximum of 8 children) and large family childcare providers (licensed to care for a maximum of 14 children). These provider locations are typically in homes.

Category 2

Licensed Childcare Center

Non-government contract or partially government funded licensed childcare centers.

Category 3

License-Exempt Group Care

Any non-government contracted, license-exempt group care provider that serves school age children up to 12 years old. Eligible license-exempt providers may include public recreation programs or before and after school programs.

Number of Children Served by Provider Type

“Childcare is essential to keep our economy moving and our families thriving, even during a pandemic. We are proud of this partnership and its impact because when local providers and parents were most in need, the Childcare Provider Grant Program helped ensure that the people we trust to care for our children still had the resources and support they needed to keep them safe.”

— Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation

Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation

Regional Impact

Grants by Zip Code

At least one application was received from a total of 90 zip codes throughout San Diego county. The highest volume of applications was received from providers located in the following neighborhoods or areas: City Heights (92105), El Cajon (92020 and 92021), and Otay Mesa (92154). Of the total applications, 22% came from these four zip codes alone.

Top 10 Zip Codes by Application Volume

The zip codes showing the highest numbers of applications for Category 1 – family childcare home providers – are also areas with neighborhoods showing higher rates of COVID-19 and higher percentages of households with incomes under $45,000/year.

Grants by Supervisor District


Supporting an Essential Sector

Childcare Is Crucial to the Economic Recovery of San Diego

Ensuring that childcare providers could use these funds for unforeseen pandemic-related expenses was crucial to providing useful and timely assistance. The list of approved uses of funds for this grant was broad, with possible use including:




Paying for supplies


Mortgage and rental assistance


Capital improvements for outdoor areas


Business resilience

Business resiliency in this context meant being able to adapt and respond to the changing circumstances of the pandemic.

Providers who had temporarily closed as a result of the pandemic were permitted to apply as long as they certified they would be open for business within 45 days of the date of their application.

a father straightens his son's mask before dropping him off at daycare
young boy riding a tricycle

Number of Approved Applications by Provider Type

Out of 3,355 approved applications, 2,494 were from Category 1, 757 were from Category 2, and 104 were from Category 3

Award Amounts by Provider Type

Grant applications had a 95.7% approval rate. Of the applications which were not approved, 31% were an ineligible provider type, 27% failed to submit required documentation prior to the deadline, and 25% had an invalid licensing or business entity number. The remaining 17% of not approved applications were from outside of San Diego county (3%), withdrawn by the applicant (13%), or not submitted on time (1%).

Equitable Access

Accessibility Was a Top Priority

To ensure that language barriers did not prevent eligible providers from accessing the funds, the application, website and translation services were provided in 8 languages:






Haitian Creole











Understanding that not all providers would have access to a computer or smartphone to apply, over 1,000 paper applications were mailed out.

Approved Applications by Language

Out of a total of 3,355 applications

child care workers at Father Joe's

“This support was crucial to our Therapeutic Childcare Center’s efforts in empowering hundreds of children and parents experiencing homelessness to reach their behavioral and educational goals. This life-changing care can make the difference between a family simply surviving, and truly thriving.”

— Deacon Jim Vargas, President and CEO, Father Joe’s Villages

Collaboration With Local Nonprofit Community Partners

The County of San Diego, The San Diego Foundation, Child Development Associates, and YMCA of San Diego County were committed to ensuring equity of access for all providers applying for this grant.

The San Diego Foundation implemented an agreement with eight community nonprofit organizations to provide technical assistance, translation, and outreach to their network of licensed family childcare providers in applying for the grant:

These organizations played a critical role in ensuring that applicants had access to technical and language-based assistance as needed. Each organization leveraged existing networks to provide inclusive outreach to frequently under-represented communities.

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community organizations

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providers assisted

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providers contacted*

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TSDF implemented an agreement with 8 additional community nonprofit organizations to support licensed Family Childcare Providers (Category 1) applying for the grant. This included outreach, language support, technical support, and general assistance to the Family Childcare Providers within their networks.



Methods included: social media, emails, flyers, newsletters, distribution of paper applications, and direct calls.

Technical Assistance

Development of step-by-step instructional guides on how to apply for the grant, which were produced in multiple languages.

Language Support

Language outreach included support in Spanish, Arabic, Farsi, Somali and Swahili. This outreach, especially in Farsi and Swahili, was crucial, since those languages were not part of the original set of application language translation options. Therefore the addition of these languages, provided by these partners, was an important component of expanding access to as many providers as possible.

* Some providers may have been contacted more than once.

A Somali family childcare provider receives assistance with applying for a grant

“This grant program to childcare providers came at a time when the providers were struggling to enroll children because of COVID. It couldn’t have come at a better time as these small business owners are struggling to make ends meet. We commend this initiative for being ahead of the curve.”

— Abdi Mohamoud, Executive Director, Horn of Africa

Outreach to Providers by Language

The San Diego County Childcare Provider Grant Program was a broad-reaching effort to support the childcare sector in the region. Numerous local partners, including First 5 San Diego and the San Diego Early Care and Education Advocacy Coalition, as well as many other community collaborators worked as thought partners and trusted messengers in the community. These efforts supported community-based research and advocacy, as well as increased awareness around this opportunity.


“So thankful to be open again! The Center is thriving, and the families are so grateful that their children have access to this very much needed in-person social interaction. When we reopened, we were concerned about not having enough PPE to keep the children safe. Thanks to the San Diego County Childcare Provider Grant Program, having enough PPE and cleaning supplies is the least of our worries. I feel so lucky to be a part of meeting such a critical need, as most schools remain closed. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your generosity!”

— Maggie Lovell, Program Supervisor, SAY San Diego Early Childhood Center

Staff and children at SAY San Diego Early Childhood Center
Miren Algorri

“You have given us the strength to stay open. We now have hope.”

“Socially, emotionally we need to be closer than ever, even as we needed to keep physical distancing. Knowing the grant was coming…I revamped my outdoor space…we try to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

In San Diego County, by remaining open and offering childcare, we are giving stability to children, and then parents can go back to work, the families can thrive. Without having to worry about their children, the economy in San Diego can reopen.

You have no idea how much you have impacted our sector [with this grant]. The domino effect of what you have done for us, for our families, for our children. You have given us the strength to stay open. We now have hope.”

— Miren Algorri, Licensed Family Childcare Provider

Ms. Algorri serves 14 children in West Chula Vista, where she has provided this service for her community for 23 years.


We would like to thank the partners and stakeholders who took the time to provide valuable input to this report.


Miren Algorri, Licensed Family Childcare Provider; Maggie Lovell, Program Supervisor, SAY San Diego Early Childhood Center; Abdi Mohamoud, Executive Director, Horn of Africa; Deacon Jim Vargas, President and CEO, Father Joe’s Villages

Primary Report Authors:

Katie Rast, The San Diego Foundation; Victoria Nelson Calisch, The San Diego Foundation; and Sarah Grainger, Robert Half

Report Contributors:

Rick Richardson, Jolie Buberl, and Linda Marvin-Livermore, Child Development Associates; Kim McDougal, Gaby Millan, and Ed Proctor, YMCA Childcare Resource Service

Report Design:

Ashley Lewis Design

The San Diego County Childcare Provider Grant Program was developed and administered through a partnership between The County of San Diego, YMCA, Child Development Associates, and The San Diego Foundation. At The San Diego Foundation, this initiative was managed by the Community Impact division, led by Pamela Gray Payton, in alignment with the goals of the Early Childhood Initiative.