Eligible TN families can get free child care for the rest of 2022

From August 1 to December 31, 2022, child care is free for eligible families. Here’s how to apply.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Social Services is offering parents child care relief for the remainder of the year.

From August 1 through December 31, 2022, TDHS is waiving co-pay fees for families currently participating in state child care payment assistance programs. This means child care providers will be paid the full reimbursement rate set by the state.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average monthly cost of child care in Tennessee is between $700 and $800 per child. With high childcare costs coupled with inflation at its highest level in 41 years, TDHS said it was trying to keep more money in the pockets of working families.

Waiver of copayment for the remainder of the year does not erase overdue balances or fees accrued prior to August 1.

To apply for assistance, here are the conditions:

  • Parents applying for the Smart Steps program whose income is below the 85th percentile of the state median income (which can be found on the Parent Income Eligibility and Co-Payment Fee Chart using the 85 line, 0% that coincides with your household size) who have children from six (6) weeks to five (5) years old and that work or go to school, or both, for 30 hours or more per week.
  • High school or college moms who stay in school and participate in the Teen Parent program.
  • Parents in the Families First program who need child care to supplement the professional activities of their personal responsibility plan.
  • Parents whose Families First case is closed can receive transitional child care support for 18 months after their Families First case is closed IF each parent works 30 hours or more per week.
  • Families First non-parental guardians who require child care for a related child IF the Guardian does 30 or more hours of work, training or education per week.

Apply online through the One DHS Client Portal or complete the application below, then fax it, mail it or bring it to your local TDHS office.

If you have questions about Child Care Expense Assistance or need a paper application, contact the Child Care Expense Assistance Customer Service Line to : 1-833-740-1440 or by email at [email protected]

To request a transfer of your child to a new provider, submit the information here.

Once approved for child care assistance, the family can choose the type of child care that best suits their needs. A Find Child Care locator is available to help families locate TDHS-accredited or Department of Education (DOE)-approved agencies.

The agency must participate or agree to participate in the child care certificate program. Parents participating in Families First, Transitional Child Care, or At-Risk-Only Child Care can choose an agency or individual to provide care. The person’s home must meet health and safety guidelines, pass a background check, and agree to undergo health and safety training before being approved.

TDHS sets reimbursement rates and pays the selected and approved provider directly.

Click here for the Child Care Fee Support Fact Sheet.

If I am eligible, what will I have to pay?

You won’t have to pay until January 2023.

The copayment chart estimates your payment based on your income and the number of children you will have in child care. You will receive the exact amount you will need to pay if you qualify.

It is important that you pay the amount you owe and that you do not miss any payments. Your child care provider can remove your child from their program if you do not pay the amount you owe.

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