Cathy James Financial Aid Program

The Cathy James Financial Aid Program helps working families afford childcare in San Miguel County. The Cathy James Financial Aid Program is named in honor of Cathy James, a champion of early childhood education in San Miguel County. This program is funded by the Early Childhood Care and Education Fund, a fund made possible by the passing of a .75 mill levy in San Miguel County in 2017.

Do you need assistance applying for the Cathy James Financial Aid program? Mara MacDonell, Strong Start Program Coordinator, will be at the library from 11am-6pm on Tuesday May 7th, Thursday May 16th, Tuesday May 21st and Thursday May 30th to help families enroll. Sign up through the Doodle poll below or email her at

Eligibility requirements:

  • Child is a US citizen or lawful permanent resident

  • Child attends licensed childcare or preschool in San Miguel County

Application requirements:

  • Affidavit verifying income

  • Most recent 30 days of pay stubs if available

  • Other income: rental, interest, trust, disability, social security, etc

  • Work schedule (or class schedule if in school or training)

  • Assets and liabilities

  • Child support paid or received (if applicable)

  • Custody agreement or parenting plan (if applicable)

The application is all filled out online at If you need assistance filling out the application please contact Strong Start Program Coordinator Mara MacDonell, or call 970-728-5613.

Frequently asked questions

My child's other parent and I are not together, how do we apply?

Option #1: A parent may apply individually if they include their custody agreement in their application. The assistance will be for the days the applicant works and the child is in their custody. 

Option #2: Parents can apply together and we will consider both incomes. We will consider all the days the child is in child care regardless of what day either parent has custody. Family size will reflect two parents.

I already receive CCCAP, can I apply?

The need for financial assistance is great, yet the funds available are limited. The Cathy James Financial Aid program is built to be "last dollar in" -if you qualify for CCCAP we ask you take advantage of those federal funds and allow more families to be assisted. That being said, please feel free to reach out to Strong Start with any concerns.

I already receive CPP, can I apply?

Yes! Feel free to apply, however we will consider your CPP award in addition to your income when determining your financial assistance award. Depending on your income, you may or may not qualify. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Strong Start.

I feel like I make too much money to qualify, should I even bother applying?

Yes! We do not have an income limit for our financial aid program. If you struggle to pay for child care, please apply. While we cannot guarantee funding, we will work to assist as many families as possible. If you have any questions please reach out to Strong Start!

How does this financial aid work? Who is eligible to receive funds?

This financial aid is paid on behalf of the child to the child care center. Parents/guardians submit their financial documents and, based on all income, Strong Start will determine an award to be paid to the center on the child's behalf. Families will not receive the funds directly, but rather see the funds reflected in reduced costs at their childcare center or preschool. All legally present children enrolled in licensed childcare or preschool in San Miguel County are eligible to receive funds.

I plan to enroll my child into childcare/preschool in later in the year, when should I apply?

If you plan on enrolling your child into childcare/preschool anytime in the next year (June 2019-June 2020), please apply for aid at this time and note the start date in the application. If you are unsure where your child will be attending, please contact Strong Start program coordinator  Mara MacDonell at or 970-728-5613 to discuss options.

I missed the application period but am in need of assistance paying for childcare, what are my options?

Strong Start understands that the application period is short and unexpected life circumstances come up. If your family has recently moved to the area, experienced a financial hardship (such as a loss of job),  or otherwise had a change of circumstance,  please contact Strong Start program coordinator  Mara MacDonell at or 970-728-5613 to discuss options.

Applications will open May 1, 2019.