Together ChildcareTennessee, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS), have awarded nearly $5 million to 1,289 child care agencies across Tennessee since October 2019. ChildcareTennessee’s partnership with TDHS includes a variety of grants and resources to support the state’s licensed child care programs.
Any TDHS-licensed agency could apply for Support and Enhancement Grants of up to $4,000 (up to $5,000 in economically distressed counties) to enhance classrooms, playgrounds and programs.
Many child care programs took advantage of the grants by adding playground equipment and classroom furniture, while others replaced books and added indoor play items.
“What we purchased with our grant will take us forward for years,” said Kristin Pruitt, assistant director at The Shiny Penny Child Care Center in Chattanooga. “Every infant in our nurseries, all of our babies will get to experience our new toddler playground, just like the first toddlers to see this one.”
An estimated 154,485 children have benefited from program enhancements because of the Support and Enhancement Grant. These financial resources are part of new investments TDHS has made in child care since the start of 2019, including raising the weekly reimbursement rates for agencies that serve families receiving subsidized care, new bonus payments for non-traditional care and child care deserts, and introducing the WAGE$ program, which supplements early childhood educator’s salaries statewide.
“Without ChildcareTennessee, without TDHS, we would not have been able to rebuild our toddler playground,” Pruitt said. “This new playground will take us into 2025. And we’ll still be thanking ChildcareTennessee and TDHS for the Support and Enhancement Grant.”
Supporting professionals and child care agencies serving Tennessee’s children is ChildcareTennessee’s mission.
“The Enhancement grant application process has allowed ChildcareTennessee to connect with dedicated child care agencies across the state,” said Gina Tek, senior manager at ChildcareTennessee. “We appreciate their service to our state’s children and the opportunity to work with them to increase the quality of their programs.”
To help stretch grant dollars, ChildcareTennessee partnered with vendors across the state to provide discounts to child care directors on products and services. These vendors cover a variety of services and products, such as food supplies, playground equipment, and school supplies.
Interested in becoming a shared services vendor? Click here to learn more.