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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.

There are 2 easy ways for you to search for child care:
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 free
  • You’ll talk with a local Parent Education Specialist
  • You’ll Receive a list of child care options based on your search criteria
  • You’ll get information to help you choose the best care for your child

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.

  • It’s free.
  • You’ll receive a list of child care options based on the criteria you select.
  • It’s available 24/7.
  • You’ll be redirected to the Parent Aware website.

Financial Supports

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.


Pathway I Early Learning Scholarship

Early Learning Scholarships can help families cover the cost of quality child care to prepare their young children for school. A scholarship must be used at a Parent Aware-Rated program – for more information, you can visit the Parent Aware website.  Think Small administers Early Learning Scholarships to income eligible families living in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties.

Early Learning Scholarships are provided through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education with funds from Minnesota State Appropriation 124D.165.

Beginning November 15, 2023, Think Small will begin accepting Pathway I Early Learning Scholarships applications for children ages, birth to age 4. Submitted applications will be reviewed beginning January 1, 2024, in the order that they were received by Think Small based on the legislative expanded age eligibilities. 


Contact Scholarships  

Pathway 1 Early Learning Scholarships
Eligibility Requirements

Child’s Age

To qualify, a child’s age must be 3 or 4 years old on September 1, 2023 and not yet enrolled in kindergarten. OR Children not yet 3 years by 9/1/23 may be considered if at least one of the following is met:

  • The child is the younger sibling of a currently awarded child: and attends the same program, as long as funds are available
  • The child is in foster care or in need of child protective services
  • The family has experienced homelessness in the past 24 months
  • The parent is under the age of 21 and currently pursuing a high school or general education equivalency diploma (GED)


Families prove with paystubs, W2s, Taxes, child support payments, etc., an annual gross income of no more than 185% of Federal Income Poverty Guidelines.

Family Size Gross Income Family Size Gross Income
2 $36,482 6 $74,518
3 $45,991 7 $84,027
4 $55,500 8 $93,536
5 $65,009 9** $103,045
**For family units of more than nine members, add $9,509 for each additional member. OR Families prove with a dated participation document listing one of the following programs:
  • MFIP
  • CCAP
  • Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Program (FRLP)
  • CACFP (by income)
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • SNAP
  • 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.

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
  • 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.

Awarded Families

Parent Aware Rated Programs

To identify a scholarship eligible, Parent Aware rated early learning program for your child, please click on the link 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:

Early Childhood Professionals

Resources to help child care provider and families.

Billing Information

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

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.

Apply Online for Child Care Assistance

Parent Resources

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 knwoeldge and tools to create a thriving environment for their child’s growth and success.

View Resources