Together ChildcareTennessee, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, and the Tennessee Department of Human Services (TDHS), have awarded nearly $5 million to 1,289 child care agencies across Tennessee since October 2019. ChildcareTennessee’s partnership with TDHS includes a variety of grants and resources to support the state’s licensed child care programs.

Any TDHS-licensed agency could apply for Support and Enhancement Grants of up to $4,000 (up to $5,000 in economically distressed counties) to enhance classrooms, playgrounds and programs.

Many child care programs took advantage of the grants by adding playground equipment and classroom furniture, while others replaced books and added indoor play items.

“What we purchased with our grant will take us forward for years,” said Kristin Pruett, assistant director at The Shiny Penny Child Care Center in Chattanooga. “Every infant in our nurseries, all of our babies will get to experience our new toddler playground, just like the first toddlers to see this one.”

An estimated 154,485 children have benefited from program enhancements because of the Support and Enhancement Grant. These financial resources are part of new investments TDHS has made in child care since the start of 2019, including raising the weekly reimbursement rates for agencies that serve families receiving subsidized care, new bonus payments for non-traditional care and child care deserts, and introducing the WAGE$ program, which supplements early childhood educator’s salaries statewide.

ChildcareTennessee Year I Support and Enhancement Grant Report
Click to Download/Print Report

“Without ChildcareTennessee, without TDHS, we would not have been able to rebuild our toddler playground,” Pruett said. “This new playground will take us into 2025. And we’ll still be thanking ChildcareTennessee and TDHS for the Support and Enhancement Grant.”

Supporting professionals and child care agencies serving Tennessee’s children is ChildcareTennessee’s mission.

“The Enhancement grant application process has allowed ChildcareTennessee to connect with dedicated child care agencies across the state,” said Gina Tek, senior manager at ChildcareTennessee. “We appreciate their service to our state’s children and the opportunity to work with them to increase the quality of their programs.”

To help stretch grant dollars, ChildcareTennessee partnered with vendors across the state to provide discounts to child care directors on products and services. These vendors cover a variety of services and products, such as food supplies, playground equipment, and school supplies.

Interested in becoming a shared services vendor? Click here to learn more.

Child care directors express gratitude for the

Support and Enhancement Grant

About ChildcareTennessee

ChildcareTennessee, an initiative led by The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, focuses on collaborative opportunities in our child care center’s administrative, programmatic and operational services. ChildcareTennessee’s goal is to improve the quality, accessibility and sustainability of the services offered to the children and families we serve.

About The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee

The Community Foundation exists to promote and facilitate giving in the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee and beyond. It does this by accepting gifts of any size from anyone at any time and by empowering individuals, families, companies, nonprofits, and communities to respond to needs and opportunities that matter. The Community Foundation works with people who have great hearts, whether or not they have great wealth, to craft solutions that reflect their intentions and goals. For more information, call 615-321-4939 or visit

About the Tennessee Department of Human Services

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is responsible for licensing and monitoring more than 2,300 child care agencies across the state. The primary purpose of licensing is to support child care agencies in providing environment that are safe, healthy, and educationally rich.

This project is funded through a grant with the Tennessee Department of Human Services and The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.