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Child care payment assistance available for Marion County parents

NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS) announced additional Smart Steps child care payment assistance opportunities for Marion County residents and across the state to be a resource for income eligible parents who are working, pursuing postsecondary education, or a combination of both. The Smart Steps program is a part of the Department’s 2G for Tennessee initiative – a two-generation approach focused on both the child and the parent’s well-being.

Families are often faced with the difficult task and balancing act of juggling their household budget; work hours; and having a safe, reliable and enriching child care environment for their children.  More than 2,900 families have signed up for the Smart Steps program since its launch in June 2016 on a first come first serve basis. TDHS is now offering 2,100 additional slots in order to reach families in need of affordable quality child care across the state. These new slots will be available effective February, 1 2017.

“Smart Steps remains a game changer for parents working and/or pursuing educational goals in Tennessee,” DHS Commissioner Dr. Raquel Hatter said. “We are excited to expand this opportunity to more families to support their progress by providing access to affordable quality child care. Participating children are also enrolled in the Imagination Library. This new category of child care assistance is in alignment with the department’s 2G for Tennessee focus and Governor Haslam’s Drive to 55.”

Smart Steps is available to income-eligible working parents and parents pursuing postsecondary educational goals that have children ages six (6) weeks to five (5) years of age. Families that participate in Smart Steps are responsible for a portion of their child care costs or co-pay based on a sliding income scale. As part of the program, children will be enrolled in quality, affordable, child care facilities and the Imagination Library.

Smart Steps participants can choose from more than 2,400 DHS licensed child care facilities across the state. Along with independent research, parents can use tools offered by the department to assist in choosing child care. These include the find child care tool located on the DHS website, the Child Care Report Card posted in all licensed child care facilities, and the Star Quality Program, which recognizes providers that exceed minimum licensing standards.

Applications are available at DHS county offices or at:  http://www.tn.gov/humanservices/topic/child-care-services.

Space is limited in the program and will be awarded to eligible families on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information on the Smart Steps Child Care Payment Assistance Program please call visit http://www.tn.gov/humanservices/topic/child-care-services or call 615-313-3893.

To learn more about DHS’ two generation strategy, 2G for Tennessee, visit: http://www.tn.gov/humanservices/topic/2gen-approach.

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