Mayor John Cooper joins other Tennessee mayors in pushing state to release $79 million in childcare development funds

Nashville Mayor John Cooper and other mayoral administrations in Tennessee have asked the state legislature and Gov. Bill Lee to distribute approximately $79 million in child care development funds (CCDF). Tennessee is only one of two states to not spend its CCDF allocation, having sent back a minimum of $72.3 million since 2015. The current $79 million distribution is set to expire soon.

The CCDF is a federal and state partnership program with over $5 billion in federal funding authorized under the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act and administered by states, territories, and tribes with funding and support from the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Child Care. States use CCDF to provide financial assistance to low-income families to access childcare so they can work or attend job training classes or school.

“Insufficient and inadequate child care is a major problem for working families in Nashville, and the Child Care Development Funds are too valuable of a resource for the state to simply return to the federal government,” said Mayor Cooper. “As most parents can attest to, finding quality childcare, let alone affordable childcare, in Nashville is a tremendously difficult task, with waiting lists that create awful burdens on families. The $79 million the state current has in child care funds will go a long way in helping local governments across Tennessee, including Nashville, address these challenges.”

In Davidson County, the number of childcare centers has decreased by 16% while the population has grown by 21%, according to The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Research by the Center for American Progress found that 48% of the state of Tennessee is a childcare desert—an area that has three times as many children as licensed child care spots, including all four major Tennessee cities. And 98% of Tennessee parents of children age five or younger said that inadequate child care services hurt their work productivity or limited career opportunities, according to a study by Tennesseans for Quality Early Education.

Cooper’s administration will continue to lobby the governor’s office and state legislature to use its CCDF allocation to help offset the cost of child care for low-income families in Nashville and invest in local child care quality by building the skills and qualifications of local child care professionals, helping local programs achieve higher qualification standards, and providing consumer education to help parents select providers in Davidson County that meets their families unique child care needs.