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.”
If agencies continue to have to close as the pandemic continues, they can apply for up to 60 days of lost income through the COVID-19 Loss of Income Grant. Child care programs that closed because of the pandemic before now and have not yet applied for the grant can do so retroactively, back to March when agencies began closing because of the pandemic.
As child care programs reopen, there are other grant opportunities to support agencies experiencing reduced attendance and elevated operating costs due to the pandemic.
Licensed TDHS child care agencies interested in applying for either COVID-19 grant should visit www.childcaretennesee.com.
To learn more about ChildcareTennessee, visit www.cfmt.org/childcaretennessee.ChildcareTennessee.com
ChildcareTennessee, an initiative led by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, focuses on collaborative opportunities in our child care centers’ administrative, programmatic and operational services. ChildcareTennessee’s goal is to improve the quality, accessibility and sustainability of the services offered to the children and families we serve. www.childcaretennessee.com.
About The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee
The Community Foundation exists to promote and facilitate giving in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and by empowering individuals, families, companies, nonprofits, and communities to respond to needs and opportunities that matter. The Community Foundation works with people who have great hearts, whether or not they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect their intentions and goals. The Community Foundation has distributed $1 billion in grants since its inception 29 years ago in 1991. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit www.cfmt.org.
About the Tennessee Department of Human Services
The Tennessee Department of Human Services is responsible for licensing and monitoring more than 2,300 child care agencies across the state. The primary purpose of licensing is to support child care agencies in providing environments that are safe, healthy, and educationally rich.