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WAGE$®, Enhancement Grants and More

Children with day care teacher_WEB

Child Care Services

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is committed to promoting high quality early childhood environments that are safe, healthy and educationally rich. To support high quality and increase access to early care and education programs, the Department  has launched several initiatives through contracted partners that are available to all DHS Licensed Child Care agencies statewide beginning in October 2019.


The Child Care WAGE$® Program is an education-based salary supplement program for child care educators employed in DHS Licensed Child Care agencies.  This program provides eligible educators an annual award, issued in two parts, based on specific qualifications that include working at least six months in the same child care program with children birth to five years old for at least 10 hours a week.  An educator with six credit hours in early childhood education will receive a yearly supplement of $400.  The supplement rises with experience up to $5,200 a year for eligible educators with a master’s degree. To apply or learn more, visit the Signal Centers, Inc. website at

Supplement totals shown represent annual awards for full-time eligibility. Applications working less than full-time will receive a prorated amount.

To be eligible for at least one six-month payment during the fiscal year, applicants must

  • Work in a TN Department of Human Services licensed child care program.
  • Earn $20 or less per hour.
  • Have one of the education levels listed. Credits are from a regionally accredited school.
  • Have worked at least six months in the same child care program with children ages birth to five at least 10 hours per week.
  • Be employed at this same child care program when funding is available, and a final confirmation has been completed.

*Temporary levels of education. Teachers awarded at one of these levels must move up to a higher level within two years in order toretain eligibility. Deadlines will be reestablished at each temporary level. Family child care providers have three years to achieve theeducation needed to move up.

Shared Services and Resources

Resources including business management tools, human resource tools, program administration tools and classroom resources will be available at no cost through an online centralized knowledge resource that aligns with State requirements. For example, emergency preparedness plan templates, and more. These tools can help child care providers focus more on the child care side of their agency, and less on business processes. 

DHS Licensed Child Care agencies will have access to shared services including bulk purchasing at discounted pricing. For more information on Shared Services and Resources please visit website:

Enhancement Mini Grants

Enhancement grants will be available to TDHS Licensed Child Care agencies that specifically support quality improvement, compliance with licensure rules and capacity enhancement. Agencies may apply for up to $4,000 (up to $5,000 for distressed counties) to support these enhancements. For more details and to apply, please visit

Pediatric First Aid and CPR Training/Certification

To promote safe environments for children, Pediatric First Aid and CPR training and certification will be available to child care educators and administrators of licensed child care agencies at no cost. For more information on training and certification dates, please visit Child Care Resource and Referral’s (CCR&R) website:

Business Academies

Small Business Academies will be available that promote best practices and strengthen business operations for child care agencies. The focus of the academies will be in the areas of:

  • Budgets, Projections, and Planning
  • Financial Reports and Internal Controls
  • Marketing for Child Care Programs
  • Staff Recruitment and Retention for Center-based Child Care Programs

For more information, please visit the Child Care Resource & Refferal website at

Tech Goes Home

Effective October 1, 2021, TDHS has deployed the “Tech Goes Home” model available to child care agencies which includes the provision of technology devices, coaching and TA on the use of the equipment and how it strengthens business operations.  This program is in collaboration with the Child Care Resource and Referral Network (CCR&R) and will support child care agencies in modernizing their systems and equipment in order to lessen the administrative burden and allow providers to focus on family/child interactions and delivering quality care. There will be a simple application located on the CCR&R website that will be made available when the program is fully launched. 

Establishment/Expansion Grants

TDHS is committed to increasing access to quality child care.  Through Establishment and Expansion Grants, TDHS will use American Rescue Plan Act administrative dollars to provide financial support for furniture, equipment, supply, and curriculum costs associated with opening a new child care agency or expanding licensed capacity at an existing agency.  Promotion of the establishment grants aligns with announcement of the new TDHS Pre-Licensure Support Unit on August 1, 2021. TDHS is also partnering with staff at the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development regarding how Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds could possibly be used to support construction or renovation of child care spaces.

Existing child care agencies who wish to expand their capacity should contact their Licensing Consultant after October 1st to begin the process.

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