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Fund for Quality

Expanding early childhood education in Philadelphia


The Fund for Quality (FFQ) is a partnership between Reinvestment Fund and Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), with funding from the William Penn Foundation, and Vanguard Strong Start for Kids Program. Through the provision of business planning and facilities-related financing, Fund for Quality supports high-quality early care and education providers with expanding their services to reach more low-income families.

High-quality early learning experiences nurture positive child development and prepare children for success in school and beyond. Fund for Quality aims to expand the availability of quality early childhood education and care opportunities for low-income families living in the City of Philadelphia.

Providers may apply for planning grants to assist with organizational planning and project predevelopment to ensure a successful and high-quality expansion project. Based on successful completion of the planning phase, providers will be eligible to apply for capital grant awards of up to $300,000 and as needed, loan funds to support the expansion project.

Awardees will benefit from the advantages of larger scale business operations, and in turn, will be instrumental in reducing the overwhelming unmet demand for high-quality early care and education services in Philadelphia.

As of April 1, 2024, Fund for Quality has added more than 3,250 new child care seats in Philadelphia


Since 2014, FFQ has come to serve as an important source of financial support and technical assistance for ECE providers, and has been a key driver of the expansion of high-quality childcare seats in underserved, low-income neighborhoods across Philadelphia. Fund for Quality has supported 63 high-quality expansion projects for early childhood education providers, which are anticipated to create over 3,900 new high-quality seats by the end of 2024.

Philadelphia has seen tremendous growth in the number of high-quality seats in recent years—from 22,744 (25% of total) in 2013 to 40,099 (44% of total) in 2023, according to the most recent Childcare Gap Analysis of Childcare Map data, an increase of 17,355 seats.

FFQ directly supported roughly a fifth of the increase in high-quality seats during this timeframe. On top of this, a research study by Policy Solutions also found that the presence of an FFQ site, or a site benefiting from another ECE program such as the Philadelphia ECE Loan Fund, correlates with nearby providers increasing their STAR rating as well.


Organizations first apply to the Planning Phase of the program, and must meet the following eligibility criteria:

Existing high quality operator (STAR 3 and 4) at over 50% of sites

Must be in operation for 2+ years

Serving low-income populations

(over 50% of children served receiving subsidy funding including CCW, Head Start, Early Head Start, PreK Counts, and PHLpreK)

Positive enrollment trends and strong business plan
Organizational capacity for expansion
Projects that will increase licensed capacity by 40 or more ECE seats in Philadelphia
Ownership or long-term lease (10+ years) on property and landlord consent for renovations

In addition, the program aims to support organizations serving vulnerable populations, and located in areas with large high quality shortage on Childcare Map.



The Fund for Quality program has a new 1-year program funding cycle (July 2024 through June 2025) to support three high quality expansion projects that can be completed within a 12-month timeline.

Providers first apply to the FFQ Planning Phase. The application process for this round includes two steps:


  • LOIs will be reviewed on a weekly basis through the deadline for eligibility. Providers that meet initial eligibility criteria will be invited to submit a full application.
  • Providers may be requested to participate in a preliminary site visit from program staff or a licensing consultant if there are questions about the expansion site.
  • All providers will be notified by Friday, May 31, 2024 at the latest if invited for a full application

For LOI questions and support, review the instructional video and FAQ below, and:


  • An application will be emailed to providers who meet initial eligibility. Select applicants will be requested to participate in a site visit.
  • Providers will be notified of their award status in July.


Childcare Center Design Guide

Childcare Center Design Guide

July 2017

New Design Guide coming soon! Check back for updates incorporating sustainability and climate resiliency in summer 2024. 

This guide may provide a current operating childcare provider or a prospective provider with information for the planning and design of early childhood spaces that highlight the high-quality early childhood care, education, mission, and vision of the center. This guide compiles licensing and regulatory requirements established by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and the City of Philadelphia, as well as best practice recommendations per the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Environment Rating Scale (ERS), and Caring for Our Children (CFOC).

Design for All

January 2020

Design for All builds upon the 2017 publication concept that a childcare center should encourage ALL children’s social, physical, intellectual, creative, and emotional development through play and learning. Design for All also calls attention to the unique needs of adults with disabilities who work in or visit a childcare center. Design for All should be viewed as a collection of new items that current or prospective providers can incorporate into the renovation or design of a childcare facility. Similar to the 2017 Design Guide, implementing the Design for All concepts will require concurrent consideration of regulatory requirements and recommended practices.

NOTE: Information related to the purchase or construction of a center should be reviewed with professionals such as architects, engineers, zoning officials, and other licensing agencies that have jurisdiction over childcare centers prior to a purchase or when planning for a construction project.



Childcare Map is an interactive tool that helps identify the neighborhoods where high-quality care is most scarce, and where investments are most needed. Interested providers seeking expansion projects will utilize this tool to define gaps and outline expansion need in their applications