Child Care Incentives, Grants and Supports

Children with day care teacher_WEB

Child Care Services

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is committed to promoting high quality early childhood environments that are safe, healthy and educationally rich. To support high quality and increase access to early care and education programs, the Department  has launched several initiatives through contracted partners that are available to all DHS Licensed Child Care agencies statewide.


Child Care WAGE$® Tennessee is an education-based salary supplement program with three primary goals: reduce turnover in child care facilities; address the low pay of educators working in the early childhood field; reward educators for their higher education. Depending on how many early childhood college credits an educator has completed, WAGE$ direct deposits an annual award, issued in two parts, directly to the educator. Supplements are dependent on the educator staying employed at their current facility. To qualify, educators must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Work in a TN Department of Human Services licensed child care facility
  • Work in their facility for at least six months
  • Make $20 per hour or less
  • Have at least six credit hours of early childhood college coursework or a bachelor’s degree in an any field (from a regionally accredited college)
  • Work at least ten hours per week with children birth to five years old

Educators who meet those criteria can qualify at one of ten different levels which can be seen in the Salary Supplement Scale below. To apply or learn more, visit the WAGE$ website at

*Temporary levels of education: In order to promote continued education, teachers who are awarded at one of the first seven levels (temporary) must move up to a higher level within two years in order to retain eligibility. Deadlines will be reestablished at each temporary level. Family child care providers have three years to achieve the education needed to move up.

**Part-time employment: The supplement amounts shown above are for teachers working at least 35 hours per week in the classroom. For applicants working less than that, their supplement amount will be prorated depending on how many hours per week they work.

Shared Services and Resources

Resources, including business management tools, human resources tools, program administration tools and classroom resources, are available at no cost through, an online centralized knowledge resource that aligns with State requirements. These tools can help child care providers focus more on the child care side of their agency, and less on business processes. DHS Licensed Child Care agencies have access to shared services including bulk purchasing at discounted pricing.  

Click here for more information and to register for a free account.

Child Care Enhancement Grants 

Child Care Enhancement grants are available to licensed child care agencies to increase capacity, strengthen quality, and/or promote compliance with State licensing standards. There is a base amount available of $4000 with additional supplemental amounts based on certain criteria:

  • Physically operate in one of the economically distressed counties as may be identified by the Governor shall be eligible for an additional $1000.00.
  • Are verified by the Tennessee Child Care Resource & Referral Network as having completed Infant and Toddler Specialization (ITCS) shall be eligible for an additional $1000.00.
  • Seeking national accreditation through either the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), or National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA) shall be eligible for an additional $1000.00
  • Participation in the Child Care Certificate Program and meet all criteria under the contract shall be eligible for an additional $1000.00
  • Are referred by the State for compliance or remediation of deficiencies shall be eligible for an additional $1000.00

Saftey Supplemental Grant: Programs seeking to enhance safety and security can apply for up to $4000. Providers must have already applied and have been approved for the current Support and Enhancement Grant cycle.

Allowable expenditures under the enhancement grants includes but is not limited to:

  • Equipment: Playground materials to meet safety standards or ADA compliance for serving children with disabilities; furnishings to create or increase capacity; items that support bulk purchasing or sanitation such as refrigerators or dishwashers; assistive technology or adaptive devices that support serving children with disabilities and the provision of inclusionary care; materials used for learning purposes or meal/feeding activities; or health and safety supports (carbon monoxide detectors, smoke detectors, door alarms, camera recording systems, emergency preparedness kits, transportation upgrades or safe sleep materials); provided that in order to constitute “Equipment” each such item must have a cost of less than five thousand dollars ($5000.00).
  • Program Enhancements, including Supplies: Materials supporting learning, educational, and developmental enrichment (i.e., books, toys, displays, parent information, educator professional development, curriculum for special needs or multilingual children, etc.); behavioral modification supports related to opioid prevalence or other student needs; promoting wellness, physical activity, and good nutrition; family engagement; or strengthening learning and health and safety standards.
  • Consultant and Coaches: Support for purchasing educationally rich curriculum; support for curriculum coaches and consultants; or such professional fees for CPA or tax advisors to improve financial stability (although not routine accounting or tax preparation services).

Find additional information here: Member Services - ChildcareTennessee (

Pediatric First Aid and CPR Training/Certification

To promote safe environments for children, Pediatric First Aid and CPR training and certification is available to child care educators and administrators of licensed child care agencies at no cost. For more information on training and certification dates, please click on the Region Map at Child Care Resource and Referral’s (CCR&R) website:

Business Academies

SSmall Business Academies promote best practices and strengthen business operations for child care agencies. The focus of the academies is in the areas of:

  • Budgets, Projections, and Planning
  • Financial Reports and Internal Controls
  • Marketing for Child Care Programs
  • Staff Recruitment and Retention for Center-based Child Care Programs

Click here for more information

Establishment and Expansion Grants

TDHS is committed to increasing access to quality child care. Through Establishment and Expansion Grants, TDHS uses American Rescue Plan Act administrative dollars to provide financial support for furniture, equipment, supplies, and curriculum costs associated with opening a new child care agency or expanding licensed capacity at an existing agency. Promotion of the establishment grants aligns with announcement of the new TDHS Pre-Licensure Support Unit on August 1, 2021. Existing child care agencies who wish to expand their capacity should contact their Licensing Consultant to begin the process.