Infant and Toddler Interior Design Interventions


November Update – Little Changes – Big Impact
Space has the ability to provide a sense of community, well-being, and belonging to all the people – large and small – who enter it. Very young children are particularly influenced, either positively or negatively, by the environment around them – and even small improvements to a space can have a positive impact. Earlier this year we launched a pilot for our Infant and Toddler Interior Design Interventions program. This program focused on making small, incremental changes to a space in an effort to improve the physical environment in ways that will support and bolster program quality.


One site in particular, Busy Bees Academy in Warwick, did not have child-level views to the outside, often creating other issues in the classroom. Because of the children’s desire to peek outside they would often stack and climb on toys, making it an unsafe environment that would require much teacher intervention. Many solutions were discussed, including lowering the window, replacing with a door, or creating a new elevated space for viewing. In the end Busy Bees added a raised platform and the changes have been pretty dramatic – and not in the most obvious ways. One of the biggest changes has been with language development. They call out all the parents’ names when they see them, they talk about and watch the weather, and they look for trucks and buses. Cooperative play has dramatically improved too. The children take turns looking out and soon they will be installing a bird feeder. Behavior has improved because it provides another zoned space, and allows for more to explore! We can’t wait to share more of our small changes!
April Update – Three Centers Selected for the Infant and Toddler Interior Design Intervention Program

The quality of your space can either significantly enhance or inhibit the quality of your program. Space has the ability to provide a sense of community, well-being, and belonging to all the people – large and small – who enter it. Very young children are particularly influenced, either positively or negatively, by the environment around them. This is why child care facilities play an especially critical role in offering environments that support children’s learning and development. And even small improvements to a space can have a positive impact. We’ve selected three different locations in Providence, Johnston, and Warwick to help make minor interior modifications that will increase the quality of the environment. Proposed interventions include adding more access to natural light, reducing noise levels in space, rearranging furnishings, creating child-level views to the outside, and incorporating more plush and private spaces for children. We look forward to sharing the final designs when complete!

The Request for Proposals is now Closed
We are in the process of reviewing applications – stay tuned!

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is the nation’s leading community development organization and specializes in building partnerships among the corporate, philanthropic, and public sectors to support grassroots community revitalization. Created in 1980, LISC has offices in 30 cities and numerous rural locations nationwide.  The Rhode Island office opened in 1991. LISC’s national child care program, the Community Investment Collaborative for Kids (CICK), was created in 1995 to improve the quality and expand the supply of child care in low-income communities through new investments in physical facilities. Recognizing that child care providers need additional support to address facilities issues, LISC in collaboration with a coalition of public and private funding partners, formed the Rhode Island Child Care and Early Learning Facilities Fund (RICCELFF) in 2001. RICCELFF makes low-cost loans, awards grants, and delivers training and technical expertise. The technical assistance includes site analysis for new facilities, project planning, and design and implementation advice for rehabilitation or construction designed to improve health, safety, accessibility, energy efficiency, and quality conditions in child care facilities. LISC also provides technical assistance on the financing of these facility improvements and can help to structure fundraising campaigns, debt financing, and equity investments to implement design plans. Since inception in 2001, the RICCELFF has invested more than $20 million in child care facilities across Rhode Island. Technical support has been offered to more than 200 organizations and hundreds of early childhood professionals have participated in RICCELFF training programs.

“An environment is a living, changing system. More than the physical space, it includes the way time is structured and the roles we are expected to play. It conditions how we feel, think, and behave; and it dramatically affects the quality of our lives.” – Jim Greenman

The quality of your space can either significantly enhance or inhibit the quality of your program.  Space has the ability to provide a sense of community, well-being, and belonging to all the people – large and small – who enter it. Very young children are particularly influenced, either positively or negatively, by the environment around them. This is why child care facilities play an especially critical role in offering environments that support children’s learning and development. And even small improvements to a space can have a positive impact. There are subtle changes that can dramatically improve an environment – adding more natural light, including varied artificial light, improving acoustics, adjusting the climate for comfort, changing colors and textures, adding appropriately scaled elements, rearranging space – all things that make the surroundings a sensory experience. With budgets continually constrained it becomes even more important to think thoughtfully about small-scale, low cost improvements. At this time the RICCELFF is seeking a small group of child care providers from across Rhode Island to participate in a pilot project to help develop, design, and implement small-scale changes to infant and toddler interior classroom spaces. This project will focus on strategic space planning in one classroom at each program to promote increased and enhanced interaction between children, children and their teachers, and children and their physical environment. As a participant in this program you will receive, at no cost to your operation, a conceptual space design plan, technical support in strategizing how to implement the plan, and anywhere from $500 to $2,500 to support the implementation of some of these small scale strategies in your infant or toddler classroom. As part of this project you will receive:

  • A site visit and brainstorming meeting with the program director and other key staff for input on needs and concerns for your infant and toddler classroom space.
  • Photographic documentation, rough field measurements, and a sketch of the classroom space to be improved.
  • A conceptual sketch plan of the classroom to include the proposed design “interventions”
  • A private grant in the range of $500 – $2,500 to help build out some of the proposed “interventions.” (Award amount will be dependent on classroom size and scope of project.)
  • On-going on-site technical assistance to develop a plan and process for completing interventions, including potential volunteer “days of service” and/or assistance in coordinating volunteer “days of service.”
  • Assistance in developing a fundraising plan for any financial needs that exceed the grant award.
  • Public recognition of your participation in the project to other funders and state leaders.
This Project is for you if: This Project is NOT for you if:
You are willing to change your physical environment You like the way things currently are do not see the need for change in your space but would like some grant funds
You and your teachers are willing to try new things You are risk averse
You are willing to let visitors tour your program to observe the “interventions” You do not want people visiting your program
You are interested in making small scale improvements to the quality of your classroom regardless of whether or not the improvements would have a direct impact on things such as a BrightStars rating or ECERS score You are solely interested in increasing your BrightStars rating or ECERS score
Your classroom is generally safe You have major health and safety issues you are working to address in your classroom
You have staff and/or parents who would be able and willing to help build and create things, help fundraise, and would get excited about a new adventure You have limited ability to engage volunteers
You can demonstrate prior success in carrying out a facility related project, and with raising and allocating the funds needed to successfully complete projects. You have limited ability to allocate resources (time or money) to this project and limited ability to engage the community
You are excited at the idea of trying something “outside the box” You do not have a staff person you can assign to lead this project

The plans and interventions developed as part of this project will be featured in training sessions as well as publications. Programs selected will be highlighted throughout a variety of media.  Designs and drawings will be done by LISC’s consulting architect, studioMLA ( studioMLA is widely considered one of the leading architectural firms in the field of child care and educational design. Mike Lindstrom, AIA, LEED AP, is the founding Principal of studioMLA Architects. As one of the leading architects in the field of early childhood facility design, Mike, along with the late Jim Greenman, led the annual Child Care Design Institute at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Mike has served as an advisor to the American Academy of Pediatrics on Child Care Center Design and has extensive experience with the complex design, regulatory, and construction processes inherent in creating children’s environments. Most recently Mike edited the newly updated and released book Caring Spaces, Learning Places: Children’s Environments that Work.  


Eligibility is limited to licensed Rhode Island child care providers serving infants and/or toddlers. Applicants may be either non-profit or for-profit corporations serving at least 30% DHS subsidized children, with greater priority given to programs serving even higher percentages of DHS subsidized children. Applicants must provide a copy of their 501c3 certification, or proof that they are registered to do business in the State of Rhode Island.  As part of this application please describe how the business is owned (include the form of business entity -i.e., non-profit/for-profit corporation or partnership). A copy of a Good Standing Certificate from the RI Secretary of State will be required. If you do not serve at least 30% DHS subsidized children, please provide alternate proof of a charitable purpose.


Priority will be given to proposals that address the following goals:

  • The program can articulate their overall programming and curriculum.
  • The program can articulate the current constraints or issues in their infant or toddler classroom.
  • The organization can demonstrate that it has a history of particularly innovative practices and ideas.
  • The organization can cite compelling ways that they have previously adopted practices that are demonstrated to improve child health and well-being, including how they have communicated with and involved staff and parents in those practices.
  • The organization has a key staff person who can be the lead on the project, and can describe how this person’s qualifications make them a unique fit for this project.
  • The organization can cite an example of completing a building project from start to finish.
  • The organization can articulate their previous success with engaging volunteers and/or fundraising for building and site improvements.
  • The provider can demonstrate a strong commitment to quality (for example through NAEYC Accreditation, RIDE Certification and/or by actively participating in the BrightStars quality rating system.)
  • The program can show a commitment to serving high-needs children, such as children participating in CCAP and other special populations. Include a breakdown of children currently served (use the following chart as a guide):
  # of DHS subsidized children # of private pay children # of other children (Head Start/Early Head Start, IEPs.) Total # of children

If the total percentage of DHS subsidized children is less than 30%, please provide an explanation of why you believe your program is serving a high-needs population. 


Grantees receiving funds under this project will be asked to agree to the following:

  • Provide copies of any existing building plans (if available)
  • Provide images of the proposed classroom for intervention
  • Make key staff available to meet with RICCELFF project consultants for input into site design and assign a lead staff member for the project
  • Provide a tour of the space post-“intervention” (date TBA)
  • Comply with any relevant project and financial reporting requirements
  • Provide articles of Incorporation or other applicable organization documentation

Provide a written narrative briefly addressing the competition priorities listed above. In particular, please provide responses to the following questions:

  1. What is the name of your center?
  2. What is the address of your center?
  3. Are you a for-profit or non-profit program? If for-profit please describe how you are incorporated.
  4. Please provide the number of children served, including specific number of Infants and Toddlers and number of classrooms.
  5. What percent of children enrolled are state subsidized (CCAP/DHS)?
  6. Please provide a description of the organization (such as mission, strength of the staff, capacity to achieve goals, etc.)
  7. Provide a detailed description of your current facility and describe your goals for improvement (include pertinent photos).
  8. Using the criteria outlined above, describe why you believe your program is a good fit for this initiative.
  9. Provide at least one example of a facility project that you successfully implemented from start to finish.
  10. Provide your BrightStars rating, and if the rating is less than a 4 describe the concrete steps you are currently taking to improve your rating.

They should be submitted to:

Rhode Island Child Care Facilities Fund @ Local Initiatives Support Corporation c/o Erin Cox, AIA 146 Clifford Street Providence, RI  02903

-or via email-

Electronic or hard copy submissions will be accepted. Applicants will receive notification of decisions in February of 2018 with projects to begin in March 2018. Questions should be directed to Erin Cox at 401.519.5684 or We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or need further clarification on the initiative.

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