Thanks to a statewide grants program, families and their children can still have childcare to return to as Tennessee gradually begins reopening during the pandemic.
Administered through a partnership between Childcare Tennessee, 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 childcare was approaching a crisis.
Many childcare 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 childcare 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.”
Childcare Tennessee has received many messages like Collins’ 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,” said 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 childcare programs reopen, there are other grant opportunities to support agencies experiencing reduced attendance and elevated operating costs due to the pandemic.
Licensed TDHS childcare agencies interested in applying for either COVID-19 grant should visit <www.childcaretennesee.com>.