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Child Care Services

Child Care Services plans, implements, and coordinates activities and programs to ensure quality, and the health and safety of children in licensed care.  Child Care Services includes Child and Adult Care Licensing, Child Care Payment Assistance (Smart Steps and the Child Care Certificate Program), Child Care Assessment and other partner programs.

DHS is committed to promoting early childhood environments that are safe, healthy, and educationally rich. 

New Child Care Resources for Providers

The Child Care WAGE$® Program is an education-based salary supplement program for child care educators employed in TDHS Licensed Child Care agencies. Click here for more information.

Resources including business management tools, human resource tools, program administration tools and classroom resources will be available at no cost through an online centralized knowledge resource that aligns with State requirements. Click here for more information.

Enhancement grants will be available to TDHS Licensed Child Care agencies that specifically support quality improvement, compliance with licensure rules and capacity enhancement.  Click here for more information.

To promote safe environments for children, Pediatric First Aid and CPR training and certification will be available to all licensed child care educators and administrators at no cost. Click here for more information.

Small Business Academies will be available that promote best practices and strengthen business operations for child care agencies. Click here for more information.

Do you need child care payment assistance while you work or attend school? 

You may be eligible for Smart Steps Child Care Payment Assistance if you meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be employed no less than 30 hours per week, or be enrolled and attending a post-secondary education program full-time, or a combination of both
  • Must have a child between ages six (6) weeks old through five (5) years old
  • Household gross income must be below the 85th percentile of the State Median Income (SMI) for Tennessee. Please refer to the flyer at the link below for the Household Income Limits chart. 

Learn more about Smart Steps on the Smart Steps flyer, by clicking here.   To apply, print and return the Smart Steps Application to your nearest DHS Child Care Office which can be found by clicking here.

Application for Child Care Payment Assistance/Smart Steps  (HS-3408) - Instructions
Application for Child Care Payment Assistance/Smart Steps (Spanish) (HS-3408sp) - Instructions
Application for Child Care Payment Assistance/Smart Steps (Arabic) (HS-3408a) - Instructions
Application for Child Care Payment Assistance/Smart Steps (Somali) (HS-3408s)- Instructions


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Report Child Care violations/complaints by calling the Child Care Complaint Hotline at 1-800-462-8261  

Have more questions? Contact a child care licensing office near you. Contact information can be found by clicking here.