RYAN BRESLIN (WSMV) — Financial relief can be hard to come by as the struggle continues through the pandemic, but there’s one program helping essential workers pay for childcare.
The 2021 Pandemic Essential Employee Childcare Payment Assistance Program is through the Department of Human Services with the goal of helping parents “continue serving valuable roles in their communities (and) allow them to stay on the job without having to worry about childcare,” said Sky Arnold.
Arnold is the Press Secretary for DHS. He said the program is federally funded from the Dec. 27 COVID-19 stimulus bill and is specifically for qualifying occupations like workers in healthcare, transportation, restaurants, or first responders.
DHS will pay for childcare up to the state rate, at programs licensed by DHS, with rates depending on the child’s age.
“We want to sort of take the burden, if you will, off of these employees so that they can continue to serving their communities in really vital roles when you think about it during the pandemic,” said Arnold.
Parents would be responsible for paying out of pocket for locations that charge more than the state rate.
Arnold explained there’s also a program for parents with school aged children.
“We have a partnership, if you will, with the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club of Tennessee, to establish a network of temporary emergency childcare locations. Parents can come by there and sign up at these locations. They don’t have to apply online for that and they can receive free childcare at those locations.”
The program runs through March 31st. Arnold said that’s the amount of time they’re able to operate the temporary program with the dollars they’re receiving from the federal COVID Relief Package.
Any families who were taking part in the assistance in 2020 do not need to reapply, they’ll continue to get the benefit through March.
Arnold said, “Here in Tennessee, we really want to support families and we want to support workers so they can stay on the job doing really important work during the pandemic. And this is just a great example of the support that we’re able to provide so again they can continue to focus on needs of their communities throughout the pandemic and continue serving.”
To find out if you’re eligible or apply for the program, go to tn.gov/humanservices, scroll down to the green boxes.
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