Access to affordable quality child care benefits you and your children.
Think Small can connect you with resources and information to help you find and pay for the child care of your choice. Finding the right care can be overwhelming, and we are here to support you in this important decision. We’ll provide you with the information, tools, and knowledge to help identify your care and early education options.
Finding Child Care
Finding the right child care program for you and your family is a lot of work but Think Small knows that when it comes to your child, you know best! We partner with Child Care Aware of Minnesota to help you find the care that best meets your family’s needs.
|Customized Referral Thorugh Child Care Aware
|Parent Aware Self-Search Online Database
Call the toll-free hotline at 1-888-291-9811 to speak with a Parent Education Specialist and receive a customized list of programs.
It’s available Monday through Thursday, 7:00am – 5:00pm and Friday 8:00am – 4:00 pm
Click here to use the Parent Aware self-search online tool.
Child care is a necessity for most working families yet, paying for quality child care can be a challenge. Often times, the cost of child care is the biggest part of a family’s budget. Fortunately, there are some programs that can help make child care more affordable and Think Small is here to help you navigate and find the options that work best for you and your family.
Early Learning Scholarship
Pathway I Early Learning Scholarships can help families cover the cost of quality child care and preschool for young children.
Think Small administers Early Learning scholarships to young children with an income eligible family and a legal guardian in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties.
Scholarships awarded as of July 1, 2023 have a spending cap of $12,000 – $15,000 base on program type and Parent Aware rating, per scholarship year.
Early Learning Scholarship must be used at Parent Aware-Rated programs. To find eligible programs, visit ParentAware.org.
- Think Small at 651-641-6604
- Email email@example.com
- To request an Early Learning Scholarship staff to contact you, click here.
Early Learning Scholarships are provided through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education with funds from Minnesota State Appropriation 124D.165.
Early Learning Scholarship
Birth to 5 years old (only 5-year-old who turned 5 after 9/1/23 and have not entered Kindergarten).
Priority for funding is given to eligible applications that meets one or more of the four criteria below:
- Child of a teen parent under 21 and in a high school program
- Children receiving out of home/foster placement
- In need or has verification of an open child protective case
- Experience homelessness in the last 24 months
Proof of Income
Families may attached one or more of these documents: two consecutive paystubs for current employment, W2s, signed tax statement submitted to the IRS, 2 months of child support payments history, child support 2 month history, unemployment statements, SSI statements, etc., an annual gross income of no more than 185% of Federal Income Poverty Guidelines.
- Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Program (FRLP)
- CACFP (by income)
- Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
- Head Start
- Foster Care (Note: applications for children in foster care must be signed and submitted by the county worker)
Hennepin and Ramsey County residents may use one of the applications below.
Please reference eligibility requirements in the Eligibility tab.
If you would like the Early Learning Scholarship application to be sent to you by mail, email or via DocuSign (online application), Click Here.
If you do not live in Ramsey or Hennepin County, contact your county’s Scholarship administrator.
- Dakota, Scott & Carver County residents apply at https://www.familiesfirstmn.org/services/early-learning-scholarships/
- Anoka & Washington County residents apply at https://www.accap.org/early-learning-scholarships/
If you live outside of the 7 county metro area, please click here.
Tips for submitting an application
- Complete all required areas of the scholarship application. The sections marked with an asterisk (*) are required. All other information is optional.
- INCLUDE the income documents necessary to prove your family’s income eligibility. Pages 5 & 6 describe the documents we accept in two categories, Option 1 & 2.
- Applications will not be considered for a scholarship without the required documents.
- Sign and date the scholarship application in ink or use an electronic signature.
- We accept emailed, faxed or photocopied applications showing a photocopied signature.
Completed applications and attached income document can be:
- Drop off or Mail: Scholarship Department Think Small 10 Yorkton Court St. Paul, MN 55117
- Email: applyELS@thinksmall.org
- Fax: 651-645-0990
- Additional documents or information updates requested by Think Small, must be submitted within the 30-day deadline.
Early Learning Scholarship FAQs
Click here to read some frequently asked questions.
Parent Aware Rated Programs
To identify a scholarship eligible, Parent Aware rated early learning program for your child, please click on the link www.ParentAware.org or call 1-888-291-9811
- Scholarship funds pay for attended days and up to 25 absent days.
- If you plan to disenroll or stop attending your program, please contact your program and Think Small.
- An awarded child does not need to apply again but may be eligible to complete a 12-month renewal application.
- Please contact the Case Manager listed on your award letter for questions about program enrollments, spending, the remaining balance, and 12-month renew procedures.
- Please see the back of your award letter for more details about your scholarship.
- A 5 year old’s scholarship ends no later than August 31st due to kindergarten.
Click below to download additional forms:
Resources to help child care provider and families.
If you need a payment schedule, please click here.
For questions, or if you are interested in a scholarship information workshop, please contact us at 651-641-6604 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If your program is not currently participating in Parent Aware and you would like to become Parent Aware rated, please contact Parent Aware Recruiter, Tanisha Lungelow at 651-233-2297.
For scholarship information available in other languages, call 651-665-0150 or 1-866-807-6021
- Yog nyob haub ob lub nroog ntxhaib: 651-665-0150
- En el área metropolitana, Ilame al: 651-665-0150
- Magaalada gudahed wac: 651-665-0150
Child Care Assistance Program
Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is designed to help income eligible families cover the cost of child care. Think Small administers the Basic Sliding Fee CCAP for families living in Ramsey County.
In order to be eligible for Basic Sliding Fee CCAP, the following criteria must be met:
- You must not have recently received Minnesota Family Investment Program benefits
- You must meet the income guidelines
- At least one of the following must apply:
- Work at least an average of 20 hours per week at minimum wage
- Participating in job search, attending school or training classes
If you live in Ramsey County and would like assistance applying for CCAP, you can call our Intake Screening Line at 651-641-6665.
Think Small is dedicated to supporting parents on their journey of setting their children up for lifelong success. We provide a wealth of resources tailored specifically for parents. Our resources empower parents with the knowledge and tools to create a thriving environment for their child’s growth and success.
Children learn and develop quickly before age five. 90% of brain development happens during these crucial early years, and we want to help families take advantage of this important time. With ParentPowered Texts, you will receive 52 weeks of fun facts and easy tips each week with ideas on how you can promote your child’s learning.