KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Department of Human Services is increasing child care payment assistance rates for families and caregivers in the Child Care Certificate Program.

The program pays a reimbursement rate directly to child care providers on behalf of families who are enrolled and meet the income and work or education requirements of the program. The 10% increase across all categories will save many participating families money by reducing the portion they have to pay to cover tuition expenses.

Additionally, this rate increase will provide financial support to child care providers who may be recovering from financial losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. This additional income for child care providers and will help providers stay open and remain available to serve families in their communities that need quality care for their children.

“Many child care providers have continuously and consistently served families throughout the pandemic, enabling parents to work and children to continue their critical early learning,” said Department of Human Services Commissioner Clarence H. Carter. “This rate increase will create incentives to grow the child care industry and remove some of the barriers that make it challenging for parents to enter the workforce and support their families.”

THDS will also provide an additional assistance to child care agencies who care for children identified with disabilities or special needs. A 15% rate bonus will be applied to each qualifying child that participates in the Child Care Certificate Program. In addition to the 15% bonus, the department is partnering with the Child Care Resource and Referral Network to establish a team of Inclusion Quality Coaches to promote inclusive early childhood environments.