New grants are now available to licensed child care programs to enhance infant and toddler care, assist in achieving national accreditation, and achieve compliance with the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
These grants are funded through the ongoing partnership between ChildcareTennessee, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
As an extension of the popular Support and Enhancement Grant program, each Supplemental Enhancement Grant is worth up to $1,000. The grants are available in Accreditation, Infant/Toddler Specialization, and Remediation categories.
The new grant categories were developed in direct response to feedback from early childhood education professionals in Tennessee.
“These Supplemental Grants continue our decades-long work to elevate quality in child care in Tennessee,” said Ellen Lehman, president of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. “Their specific areas of enhancement will enhance quality in more intentional ways for Tennessee’s children.
“We do more than just hope for a better future,” Lehman said. “We work to make it happen.”
Child care providers will be able to apply for furniture, classroom and playground equipment, equipment to serve children with disabilities, curriculum, and other items and services associated with each Supplemental Grant category.
“We encourage safe, healthy and educationally rich spaces that promote equity, inclusion and support the overall development and well-being for all children in care,” said Gwen Laaser, Child Care Services Director at the Tennessee Department of Human Services.
“The Supplemental Grants facilitate opportunities that further enrich quality spaces so that every child has access to materials, equipment and programming that will elevate a child’s experience and promote successful outcomes,” Laaser said.
Each Supplemental Grant category has its own set of eligibility requirements specific to its area of enhancement. ChildcareTennessee will collaborate with partner organizations Tennessee Child Care Resource & Referral Network, Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance, Tennessee Family Child Care Network, and TDHS to monitor grant requirements.
“Child care affordability, availability and quality are important issues for Tennessee families,” said Jude White, Child Care and Community Services Assistant Commissioner at Tennessee Department of Human Services. “Parents want child care that is not only safe and in their budget, but also a learning lab to help prepare their children for school and life.
“As a licensing body, we understand that child care professionals and providers also have needs – they want to provide quality care and run a good business,” said White. “Our goal at TDHS is to promote early childhood environments that are safe, healthy, and educationally rich.”
Accreditation Supplemental Grant
Child care programs in the process of achieving accreditation from one of three approved national accrediting bodies will be eligible to apply for an Accreditation Supplemental Grant.
“Programs seeking accreditation want to provide a deeper level of quality care and education for their children,” said Rhonda Laird, associate director of the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance. “Attaining accreditation means higher-quality programming, enriching activities and nurturing relationships — all things that directly benefit children.”
“These grants will make a real difference in family child care professionals’ ability to purchase items they need to implement accreditation standards,” said Travonda Davenport, Director of the Tennessee Family Child Care Network that supports family home child care providers enrolled in a six month, self-study course. “It is also important for family home child care providers to earn national recognition for the standard of care they are providing.”
The Infant/Toddler Specialization Supplemental Grant
The Infant/Toddler Specialization Supplemental Grant will allow programs to purchase equipment, curriculum or other approved items to enhance the quality of their infant and toddler classrooms.
A goal of the Infant/Toddler Specialization Course and Supplemental Grant is to elevate the professionalism of infant and toddler educators.
“Through completing a required course and receiving support from coaches, educators feel empowered in the work they are doing,” said Christy Wallsmith, Deputy Director of Infant and Toddler Initiatives at the Tennessee Child Care Resource and Referral Network.
ChildcareTennessee Substitute Service
Another piece of providing that professionalism is a pilot program of substitute services across Tennessee. Qualified and trained substitutes allow early childhood educators to attend training during business hours instead of after work.
ChildcareTennessee’s Substitute Service is working with communities across the state to establish these pools of substitute teachers.
Remediation Supplemental Grants
For licensed child care programs who are seeking to improve their quality of care, Remediation Supplemental Grants also are available.
“We are excited to partner with these important organizations and provide these supplemental grants to Tennessee’s child care professionals,” said Cassandra Brown, Senior Grant Manager for ChildcareTennessee. “This collaborative effort is so special because it is a true display of unity among our partner organizations and aligns our respective missions to enhance child care programs across the state.
“I am hopeful this will be a catalyst for future collaborations between us and our partners to create more opportunities that help child care providers operate high-quality programs.”
Additional Services Available
The ChildcareTennessee/TDHS partnership also provides other services. An administrative website, ChildcareTennessee.com, features more than 2,600 resources to assist child care directors with administrative tasks, from human resources to staying compliant with federal and state regulations. These resources alleviate some of the administrative load so directors can focus on what matters most — more than 162,000 of Tennessee’s children.
By logging onto ChildcareTennessee.com, child care directors also can browse multiple local and national businesses offering discounts that provide cost savings in child care administration. Directors can then reallocate those savings to better support the children they serve.
The organizations also are administering Support and Enhancement Grants, as well as, Establishment and Expansion Grants to create more available child care slots in Tennessee. Applications are open until Sept. 1, 2022. Providers can apply at ChildcareTennessee.com.
Thanks to the ongoing partnership with TDHS, ChildcareTennessee has distributed nearly $73 million through a variety of grants to licensed child care programs across the state.
Registering on ChildcareTennessee.com is free for licensed programs. Child care directors can register now and set up an account to start utilizing services.