Thanks to a statewide grants program, families and their children can still have child care to return to as Tennessee gradually begins reopening during the pandemic.
Administered through a partnership between ChildcareTennessee, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS), the COVID-19 Loss of Income Grant allows any child care provider licensed with TDHS to apply for lost income if their agency closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Initially, no one knew how long programs would need to be shuttered. As the pandemic deepened, it became clear child care was approaching a crisis.
Many child care agencies had to close for much longer than originally anticipated. National and local news outlets alike began sounding the alarm on the dire situation child care programs were in across America.
With the help of a COVID-19 Loss of Income Grant, 799 agencies across 70 counties in Tennessee have made it through this initial stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. The total number of licensed child care agencies in Tennessee is 2,300.
“This grant was everything to us,” said Amber Collins, director of Colonial Heights United Methodist Church Preschool in Kingsport. “We feared we would not make it out of this pandemic.
“We serve 70-plus children and were so afraid our doors would permanently close,” Collins continued. “The grant also allowed us to back pay employees that had gone several weeks without pay.”
ChildcareTennessee has received many messages like Ms. Collins’s since March.
“When you receive a personal thank you note from a child care director, it solidifies that the work we are doing is essential to so many,” says Altie Jordan, COVID-19 Loss of Income Grant Coordinator. “In a small way, we can be a light at the end of a tunnel that sometimes seems never-ending.”