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Human Services taking Major Step forward to help Families Pay for Child Care

The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) announced a major step forward in helping families pay for the cost of child care and incentivizing more providers across the state to participate in the child care subsidy program.
Beginning in April, TDHS will raise the weekly reimbursement rates for all providers who take part in the state’s Child Care Certificate Program. This rate increase is the first for child care providers since 2008.
Through the Smart Steps Program, TDHS provides child care financial 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. Additional categories of child care payment assistance are available to families who take 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.
Tennessee has approximately 4,200 regulated child care agencies, who would be eligible to participate in the Child Care Certificate Program. Approximately 1,500 providers are currently participating. By raising the reimbursement rates, TDHS hopes that more providers will join the program, resulting in more choices for families seeking quality child care.
In July 2018, TDHS released new child care licensing rules that support providers in raising quality, health, and safety expectations for their services.