EARLY CHILDHOOD SYSTEM UPDATES

At Chattanooga 2.0, we are a small, but mighty, team that works to change systems in order to impact generational changes in Chattanooga and Hamilton County, TN. From early childhood education to the attainment of a thriving wage career, we’re leading initiatives to remove systemic barriers and provide intentional supports to children, students, and their families.

Chattanooga 2.0’s Early Matters action team is made up of 40 early childhood organizations that advocate and work toward a system that provides access to high-quality early childhood health, education, and family supports for all children in Hamilton County, TN.

In the early childhood space, this means ensuring children have a strong foundation from the womb and through Kindergarten to set them up for success in early math and literacy.

To support Kindergarten readiness, all early childhood systems must function effectively together to serve ALL children, but especially those in special populations. For this reason, Chattanooga 2.0 launched the Early Childhood Action Plan in 2022.

DID YOU KNOW?

Child care offers a two-generational benefit: Helping young children develop key foundational skills that will enable them to be successful in school, life, and the future workforce AND allowing parents to better balance their home and life responsibilities leading to less anxiety and higher productivity at work.

In Hamilton County, we have 24,500 children under the age of 6 and 77% of families with young children report they cannot afford to not work, which means they need reliable, affordable child care.

There are many issues currently straining the child care industry. The child care business model is broken and has been for decades, due to overhead costs and the higher ratio of adults required to care for young children in a classroom. 

The current average child care tuition in Tennessee is $11,068 / year (equivalent to in-state college tuition) which is unattainable for some families. 

There are not currently enough child care seats to meet the demand, due to a staffing shortage. But in order to raise early childhood teacher wages above $13/ hr, child care small businesses would have to raise their tuition rates, the brunt of which would fall on the backs of working families. 

Catch up on the local work supporting early childhood systems in Hamilton County below.

MICRO CENTERS: ONSITE CHILD CARE CLASSROOMS

STRATEGY: Micro Centers. CURRENTLY SEEKING PARTNER BUSINESSES! 

Micro Centers are single-classroom onsite child care programs located in various settings like schools, hospitals, or commercial buildings, serving up to 12 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 5 years in a nurturing childcare environment. Led by experienced childcare providers, Micro Centers serve as both a recruitment tool for employers and a valuable support for working families.

At the end of last year, Chambliss Center for Children‘s Katie Harbison and Chattanooga 2.0’s Jennifer Andrews discussed the Micro Center model and why investing in onsite child care is a key recruitment and retention tool for working families. 

We’re seeking locations for a new round of Micro Centers in Hamilton County. Interested businesses should contact us for more information. Download the flyer HERE.

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QUALITY MATTERS FUND FOR FUTURE CHILDCARE TEACHERS

STRATEGY: Child Care Wages. Early Matters wants to help child care teachers in the pursuit of higher education and higher wages! Child care teachers with college credits in early learning can earn MORE MONEY by receiving stipends through the TN WAGE$ program.

Through the Quality Matters Fund, we are distributing ARPA funds from the City of Chattanooga to help child care teachers pay for up to $2,500 in early childhood college courses or CDA prep. Funds are first-come, first-served and can be used toward tuition and fees (not books and materials).

Funds can be used toward CDA prep or for the Spring 2024 or Summer 2024 semesters at Chattanooga State Community College or the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, so there is a rolling deadline to apply for tuition assistance.

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TENNESSEE BILLS TO NOTE

Chattanooga 2.0 does not advocate for individual bills in the state legislature. However, we encourage you to be aware of the following bills impacting early childhood and contact local lawmakers directly with your thoughts.

TN HB0785 | Promising Futures – As introduced, requires the department to create and implement a promising futures program to provide scholarships to children who are not school age to assist them in developing early language and literacy skills in a high-quality early care and learning program; redirects, from the lottery for education account to an account administered by the department to provide funding for the promising futures scholarship program, a certain percentage of the privilege tax collected from sports wagering licensees for certain fiscal years.

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TN SB2374 | Day Care – As introduced, requires the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations to complete a study and issue a report on laws, regulations, and rules affecting the start-up, operation, and expansion of child care businesses in this state. At a minimum, the study must:

  • Analyze this state’s four largest urban cities, six suburban towns or cities, and six rural towns or counties.
  • Conduct focus groups and interviews of child care business owners and directors to identify problems and document examples that illustrate trends amongst child care businesses in this state.
  • Identify laws, regulations, and rules that:
    • Impose costs, financial burdens, or operating delays on child care business owners or prospective owners.
    • Are not necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of children served or to be served by the child care businesses.
    • Are not necessary for the health, safety, and welfare of residents of the neighborhoods where the child care businesses are located.
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LA PAZ COURSES FOR SPANISH-SPEAKING PARENTS

STRATEGY: Latino Family Supports. Chattanooga 2.0 and La Paz Chattanooga teamed up to offer Opening Doors, an education class for parents of Latino families aimed at increasing the number of children arriving ready for Kindergarten.

The long-term goal of Opening Doors is to increase the number of children arriving prepared for Kindergarten with third-grade reading and math mastery, with a significant impact of informed parents and guardians about brain development.

Learn more about Opening Doors by clicking the button below!

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UNITED FOR WORKING FAMILIES

In order to close gaps for the next generation and for the future of our workforce, we must support working families.

STRATEGY: Family-Friendly Workplaces. 

United for Working Families is a United Way campaign that stresses the importance of family-friendly business policies and practices, not just for families, but for the growth and success of our community. A family-friendly workplace not only relieves the stress of our current workforce but supports the children who make up our future workforce as well!

Employers can implement a variety of policies that help their employees who support children at home, starting with a survey to understand which employees have caregiving responsibilities. They can provide employee child care stipends to help cover the cost, backup child care, reserve seats at child care centers, or even consider hosting a Microcenter.

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Hiring! Program Coordinator

Job Title:  Program Coordinator Hours: 30-34/Week   Pay: $28-$32/hour depending on experience Work Location: Hybrid Reports To: Director of Early Childhood Strategies and Director

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