Metro will use some federal COVID-19 funding to make child care more accessible for low-income and minority families after feedback from a citywide survey indicated access to child care is a priority for Nashville residents.
Metro Council members approved an allocation Tuesday of $7.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to United Way of Greater Nashville and the Raphah Institute. The funds will be used toward implementing a program aimed at increasing access for low-income families to already-existing childcare centers, and supporting in-home child care providers.
About 48% of Tennessee residents live in a child care desert, and as growth continues, demand for care in Nashville has exploded. Tennessee Department of Human Services has designated Davidson County a child care desert county.
A 2019 study by Tennesseans for Quality Early Education found 70% of Nashville parents of children under age 5 have problems accessing suitable child care, with 98% of respondents reporting inadequate child care hurt their work productivity and career opportunities.
Council member Sandra Sepulveda proposed the funding in response to feedback from Nashville residents to a survey circulated by the council committee tasked with administering American Rescue Plan Act funds.
“I think it’s a historic step that we’re taking as a city,” Sepulveda said. “There are also components here that do specific outreach to the Latino and the Kurdish community … it’s also going to be open to people without legal status.”
Over the next 36 months, United Way and the Raphah Institute will use the funds approved by the council to launch a Child Care Stabilization Resource Program.
The lion’s share of the funding – $5.5 million – will be used to support 12 child care centers serving low-income families in Nashville with an aim at encouraging more centers to serve that demographic. The selected centers include:
– Eighteenth Avenue Family Enrichment Center
– Fannie Battle Day Home for Children
– First Steps Inc.
– King’s Daughters Child Development Center
– McNeilly Center for Children
– St. Luke’s Community House
– St. Mary Villa Child Development Center at St. Vincent de Paul
– Wayne Reed Christian Childcare Center
– 15th Avenue Learning Academy North at Bethlehem Center
– Schrader Lane Vine Hill Childcare Center
Two additional centers have not yet been selected, but would serve a significant population of Hispanic children and families where at least 30% of children are from low-income households.
Additionally, the funding will be used to support 30 to 50 home-based child care providers. Over the next 36 months, Raphah Institute will provide business startup support for women who operate in-home care services, and make grant funds available for them to start businesses. The organization will also provide education, business and licensure coaching for those women, with a focus on Muslim and Latino communities.
“We really want to invest in an infrastructure that’s already present, and that is moms, aunties and women that are already keeping kids – they’re already doing it – however, they do not have access to critical resources so they can be a sustainable business and provide a high quality education,” said Travis Claybrooks, CEO of the Raphah Institute.
Nashville is set to receive more than $380 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, passed by Congress last year, in addition to the $121.1 million in pandemic relief funding from the CARES Act in 2020. The city has allocated more than $120 million in American Rescue Plan.