EC Funders & COVID-19 Resources

Early Childhood Funders COVID-19 Resources

This page is provided as a curated list of rapidly developing resources and udpates for early childhood funders related to COVID-19.  Click on Tab Headings below to view related information.  ECFC members and other EC funders with resources or specific response strategies can contact ECFC to add your resources to this page. 


March 19, 2020 Update:
Joint PSO Statement: Keep Equity at the Forefront in Philanthropy’s Response to the Coronavirus

Guiding Principles for EC Philanthropy COVID response


Ask grantees and other community organizations what they need. 

To the extent feasible, don’t assume.  Especially as we hear about early childhood and social service programs not being able to withstand closure, we need to understand exactly what would help.  For example, home visiting and early intervention programs are seeking authorizations to be able to do telehealth visits.   NAEYC and Child Care Aware of America, including local AEYC affiliate and child care resource and referral agencies, are sources of information about what EC providers need in the short and long term.  NAEYC just released initial data from a survey of providers on COVID 19 impacts.  

We need a BOTH/AND strategy between advocacy and more direct responses.  

Funders should pursue both direct response and advocacy.  Don’t pull back on advocacy and organizing, because equitable public investment strategies will yield more support to families and programs than philanthropic investments would ever be able to do. Advocates are working to expand the safety net and to include low income families and ECE providers in public funding responses.  

Philanthropy should consider how to target investments to have the most impact, augmenting and supplementing other public and private responses without reducing the responsibility and obligation of the public sector.  

For example, Head Start grants will continue to flow to providers even if they are closed and they are expected to pay their staffs.   They may be able to also provide “to-go” meals to families, but that may vary location to location based on how feasible.  Philanthropic support could help address any gaps in nutrition services or new ways to deliver services to families during the crisis. CCDBG may continue to pay providers, even if they are closed.  States have many choices about how to implement ongoing payments to providers and how to ease the burden on families through copay waivers and other flexibilities.  Philanthropy can work in public-private partnership to encourage good state policy choices and augment public responses. 

Flexible Philanthropic Practice is Key.  

Grantees should be given broad flexibility to redeploy or reset resources from existing purposes to rapid response.   Grantees should be able to suspend and/or modify deliverables and deadlines without prolonged renegotiations (perhaps through direct contact with program officers with minimal paperwork).   General operating support is an important resource to allow grantees the flexibility to respond to the changing circumstances.  

This will be a marathon, not a sprint.  

Funders need to balance their response to urgent and immediate needs with their ability to sustain support for the field as it rebuilds over time. 

Click here for printer friendly Guiding Principles & Areas of Need/Opportunities

Emerging Areas of Need

Based on what we are hearing so far, and keeping in mind our guiding principles,  the following are some areas of need that early childhood funders may wish to consider.  Additional or different needs may emerge:  

(1) Advocacy around equitable approaches to the public investment response: 

WHY?   There are immediate Federal public investments planned through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and other economic stimulus packages.  We know from previous financial crises that responses were highly inequitable and more relief was available to those with voices at the table.   Now more than ever, we need to have advocates and community members fighting for a fair public investment response.  If the public resources flow to low-income communities and providers, this will do more to support them than all the philanthropy resources available.  

OPPORTUNITIES:  Early childhood advocates at the national and state levels, state affiliates of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, family and medical leave advocates, and community organizers will all be mobilizing.  This is an opportunity for early childhood funders to build bridges with funders working across a variety of social safety net issues.   Funders can add funding to these efforts – by enhancing grants you already have with trusted grantees.   ECFC will try to keep you apprised of more opportunities as they become available.  

(2) Support for home-based providers:     

WHY?  Home based providers may not be eligible for some of the relief that will come to center-based providers.   In addition, home -based child care may be critical to the response that will require smaller groups of contact and for COVID response workers, longer hours and shifts at atypical times.   


Home Grown Funders Collaborative – This philanthropic collaborative, focused on home-based care providers is, working on COVID responses for home-based child care.   Home Grown will support communication and information sharing around the distinct needs of licensed family providers and facility, friend and neighbor providers during this crisis and will support local and national funders in considering how emergency funding can include and support home-based providers. We encourage ECFC members to join their mailing list (via their website) and to share needs and ideas (

National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) – Will advocate to be sure that in-home care workers are covered in public relief efforts.  NDWA has also established a Coronavirus Care Fund for people who need direct assistance.   

(3) Emergency Child Care:    

WHY?   Cities and states across the country are concerned about providing child care for first responders, medical personnel, and non-medical personnel critical to response, including cleaning and support employees, and employees at pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.   There may be funds available for this from public sources, including emergency appropriations and Child Care and Development Fund flexibilities. In the meantime, this care is specialized and may cost more.   

OPPORTUNITIES:  These will likely be local opportunities, in conjunction with resource and referral agencies and state or local governments.  Here are some considerations: Contribute to “hazard pay” for providers who remain open, covering 1.5-2x their usual rate; Pay for cleaning supplies and deep cleaning as needed; Identify, recruit, and pay for telehealth services for those needing trauma related therapy in the short or long-term; Cover the cost of substitutes as needed;   Create a grant or loan program to cover costs needed to keep providers in business if they are closed (cover mortgage or rent costs, utility bills, etc.) If you need help connecting to the efforts in your local community, we may be able to help.  

(4) Support for vulnerable families: 

WHY?  Families, particularly low-income and hourly wage earners, will be the first to feel the pain of COVID-19’s economic impacts and will feel that pain most acutely.  Families are already reporting mass layoffs.  Essential workers are spending cash on babysitters for school age children that they would normally have used for household expenses. While food may be available through food programs and distribution sites, families face reduced income for household expenses like housing, medication, and transportation.  Families with babies who had received formula and diapers through child care are already reporting inability to access these vital resources.  Advocates and public officials are working to make the social safety net keep up with these changing times, but at best there will be a lag while new public funds are dedicated, and new distribution channels are developed.   

OPPORTUNITIES:  Local community foundation COVID-19 response funds; local nonprofits that provide emergency financial assistance; utilizing existing grantees to disseminate resources to known, impacted families.  

Click here for printer friendly Guiding Principles & Areas of Need/Opportunities

Key Resource For EC Funders

ECFC Events

 State and Program Info 

Advocacy Information 

Federal Early Childhood Program Guidance

EC Funder Responses:

ECFC will be updating this section to include early childhood funder specific strategies and responses. If you have a framework, strategy, letter or other response tool you can share with us, please email ECFC.


Heising-Simons Foundation is offering a rapid response fund to current grantees to offset unexpected costs incurred for disruptions to operations as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Let’s Grow Kids is raising $500,000 to support early childhood educators and child care programs.  And as part of a COVID-19 response segment on Vermont Public Radio’s Vermont Edition,  Let’s Grow Kids CEO, Ally Richards, was featured with health experts discussing essential workers and access to child care. You can listen to her segment here (March 24th).

The George Gund Foundation joined the Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, is offering flexibility for grantees to use funding for general operations, is extending grant report deadlines, is waiving the March application deadline and will continue considering requests of $10,000 or less on a rolling basis at any time. Read the Foundation’s COVID-19  response.

The David and Lucille Packard Foundation is converting some existing grant projects to general operating support, adjusting reporting and project timelines, are open to requests for expedited payments to grantees.  Read the Foundation’s COVID-19 response.

Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton (Ohio), in partnership with other local fund are part of the Stark Community Foundation’s Immediate Impact Alert Fund, which uses a common mini-grant application to capture how organizations have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and awards grants to local organizations for specific needs, including child care for first responders.

Bainum Family Foundation is providing grantees with increased flexibility and resources to help their partners with the COVID-19 crisis. Read the message to partners from BFF CEO, David Daniels.

The Ford Family Foundation (Oregon) is converting three months’ worth of grant funds planned for Spring 2020 use to general operating dollars to meet grantee’s highest needs (excludes capital grants); and/or extending grant deadlines as needed.  The foundation is also allowing grantees flexibility in use of project specific grant dollars to meet greatest needs without prior approval – for example, paying staff to help their communities in other ways if they can’t conduct their regular grant funded activities, or buying diapers for families that would normally participate in grant funded parent engagement meetings.  Read the foundation’s open letter to grantees.

GAR Foundation’s board has approved a grant to the Akron-Summit County COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund created by United Way of Summit County and their public sector leadership to focus on critical basic needs like food, shelter, and medical care and supplies for our community’s most vulnerable people. In addition, the foundation has also: created and an online platform to collect insights and front-line observations about community and sector needs from the nonprofit community; extended grantee reporting deadlines; will continue to issue payments on previously approved grants without interruption; and has rearranged all in-person due diligence for pending grants (such as scheduled site visits) to be conducted virtually or by phone. Read the foundation’s COVID-19 response.


Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative  – With philanthropic support from Gary Community investments, this collaborative of early childhood providers, advocates and foundations is working with the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) to establish a system of emergency child care for essential workers.

Initiatives Tracking General Response & Relief Funds

National Funds

  • National Domestic Workers Alliance launched a pooled Coronavirus Care Fund administered by Alia to provide domestic workers with emergency financial relief for critical expenses while experiencing lost wages due to self-quarantine or job loss.

State & Local Funds

CLICK HERE for a spreadsheet tracking state and local early childhood and child care related emergency funds.  To share information on related funds set up in your community or state, email ECFC.

As we learn of emerging areas of needs and opportunities from EC funders, advocates and partners, we will update this page and related resources.  If your foundation has strategies for supporting the EC sector during this crisis at the local, state or national levels, or suggestions for these guiding principles, please consider sharing them with us. Questions about this page, and ideas/strategies EC funders are using to respond at local, state or national levels can be sent to ECFC.