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Here's how eligible Tennessee families can get free childcare for the rest of 2022

From Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, 2022, childcare is free for eligible families. Here's how to apply.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Human Services is offering parents child care relief for the rest of the year. 

Beginning Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, 2022, TDHS is waiving co-pay costs for families currently participating in the State’s child care payment assistance programs. This means childcare providers will be paid at the full established State Reimbursement Rate. 

According to the Economic Policy Institute, Tennessee's average monthly child care cost is anywhere between $700 to $800 per child. With high child care costs coupled with inflation at a 41-year high, TDHS said it is trying to keep more money in working families' pockets.

Waiving the co-pay for the rest of the year doesn't erase any overdue balances or fees accumulated prior to August 1. 

To apply for assistance, these are the requirements:

  • Parents applying for the Smart Steps program whose income is below the 85th percentile of State Median Income (which can be found on the Income Eligibility and Parent Co-Pay Fee Table using the 85.0% line that coincides with your household size) who have children six (6) weeks to five (5) years old and who work or go to school, or both, for 30 hours or more a week.
  • High school or middle school mothers who stay in school and participate in the Teen Parent program.
  • Parents in the Families First program who need child care to complete the work activities in their personal responsibility plan.
  • Parents whose Families First case has closed can receive transitional child care assistance for 18 months after their Families First case closes IF each parent works 30 hours or more a week.
  • Non-parental guardians in the Families First program who need child care for a related child IF the guardian does 30 or more hours of work, training, or education a week.

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

If you have questions about child care payment assistance or need a paper application, contact the Child Care Payment Assistance Customer Service Line at: 1-833-740-1440 or via email at CCPaymentAssist.DHS@tn.gov.

To make a request to transfer your child to a new provider, submit information here

Once approved for child care payment assistance, the family may choose the type of care that best meets their needs. A Find Child Care locator is available to assist families in locating TDHS licensed or Department of Education (DOE) approved agencies. 

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

The TDHS establishes reimbursement rates and pays the selected and approved provider directly.

Click here for the Child Care Payment Assistance Fact Sheet.

If I qualify, what will I have to pay?

You will not have to pay until January 2023. 

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

It’s important that you pay the amount you owe and don’t miss payments. Your child care provider may terminate your child from their program if you don’t pay the amount you owe.

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