Tennessee Offers New Incentives to Provide Equal Access to Child CareExtra money will help parents who live in child care deserts or work non-traditional hours
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) announced its second major change this year to help families participating in the Child Care Certificate Program access quality care.
Beginning in July, TDHS is adding a 15% bonus to child care payment subsidy rates in the below counties identified as either distressed or child care deserts. Availability of quality child care is vital to the economic prosperity of every community. TDHS is making a deliberate investment in these counties to incentivize child care providers in strengthening the quality of their programs, increasing access, and helping children get off to a strong start in life.
• Child Care Desert Counties: Shelby, Montgomery, Sumner, Robertson, Davidson, Warren, Sevier, Greene, Hawkins, Jefferson, Cumberland, Bradley, Rhea, White, Macon, Madison, Hardin, Chester, Lawrence, Marshall, and Rutherford.
• Distressed Counties: Lake, Lauderdale, Hardeman, McNairy, Perry, Jackson, Clay, Grundy, Van Buren, Bledsoe, Fentress, Morgan, Scott, Hancock, and Cocke.
Beginning in July, TDHS will also provide a 15% bonus above the current subsidy rate to providers who offer care during non-traditional hours. This means the child is receiving a majority of care between the hours of 6:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M.
The Child Care Certificate Program provides assistance to parents with a variety of economic needs. The Smart Steps Program provides child care payment assistance to families who are working or pursuing post-secondary education and who meet certain income eligibility requirements. The Child Care Certificate Program also serves teen parents enrolled in high school through the Teen Parent Assistance for Child Care Program and families taking part in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program known as Families First, parents transitioning off Families First, and children in foster care.
Under these changes, a child care provider in Davidson County that’s currently receiving $155 dollars a week for a toddler on subsidized care would receive an extra $23 dollars for operating in a child care desert and an extra $23 dollars if the child is receiving care during non-traditional hours.
“These changes recognize that access to quality affordable child care is an essential part of the thriving Tennessee we are building.” said TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “We know there is a need for child care during non-traditional hours to support parents who work in all industries in the state, especially manufacturing. Our research has also discovered that we can provide further support to providers who offer these essential child care services in counties considered to be deserts.”
The new bonus payments for non-traditional care and child care deserts follow another TDHS change announced earlier this year to incentivize more providers to participate in the Child Care Certificate Program by raising weekly reimbursement rates.
Tennessee has approximately 4,200 regulated child care agencies that are eligible to participate in the Child Care Certificate Program. Approximately 1,500 providers are currently participating. Providers who wish to join the Certificate Program should contact the state office nearest them https://www.tn.gov/content/tn/humanservices/for-families/child-care-services/child-care-assistance-office-locator.html
Parents seeking information about enrolling in the Child Care Certificate Program should visit the TDHS website https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/child-care-services/child-care-payment-assistance.html
To support parents, TDHS also provides tips for choosing child care and an interactive database where parents can search for providers in their area https://www.tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/child-care-services/find-child-care.html
Learn more about the Tennessee Department of Human Services at www.tn.gov/humanservices.
CONTACT: Sky Arnold