TDHS expands child care program for essential workers, official says

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Department of Human Services yesterday announced it is expanding support for essential workers by providing child care through the COVID-19 Essential Employee Child Care Payment Assistance Program.

The program is available to essential workers in the financial, religious, utility and hotel industries, among others, according to a press release.

From the press release:

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Existing applicants do not need to apply again, even if they were previously denied or their application is still in process.

TDHS is reviewing and reevaluating those previously submitted applications under the expanded employment categories.

Additionally, the program has been expanded to provide payment assistance until mid-August 2020 to help essential employees stay on the job through the summer.

Applications for the COVID-19 Essential Employee Child Care Payment Assistance program are accepted online.

After an essential employee is approved for the program, TDHS will make arrangements to pay for child care at the TDHS licensed or TN Department of Education regulated program where the child is currently served.

Regardless of when an application was submitted or approved, the benefit will be effective on the first day of the program, April 15, if the child was in care at that time.

If a child is not already receiving care at a licensed program, a list of licensed child care facilities that are open is available on the TDHS website.

Once a child is enrolled and the essential employee is approved for payment assistance, TDHS will make arrangements to pay for that child care, according to the press release.

More from the press release:

TDHS has also partnered with the YMCA and the Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee to provide free child care for school-aged children of workers identified in Executive Order 22.

The YMCA and Boys and Girls Clubs have established a network of temporary/emergency child care locations across the state.

Essential employees with school-aged children who need care are now able to register at these locations and access care at no charge during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

Parents seeking care at these temporary locations, do not need to apply with TDHS first.

TDHS will continue to support free child care for school-aged children of essential workers at these temporary/emergency locations until mid-August 2020.