Early childhood leaders in Hamilton County aim to strengthen the early childhood system by supporting child care teachers. The Early Matters 2023 Quality Matters Fund is offering tuition assistance, dedicated substitutes, and unique skills training for child care teachers. Learn more about each program below.

STEAM FELLOWS at Creative discovery museum

When young children start asking big questions earlier, they’ll have an easier time comprehending STEM concepts later in life. Interested in learning how to easily integrate Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math into your child care and early learning classroom lessons? Then the STEAM Fellows cohort at Creative Discovery Museum might be for you. 

To view a video from a recent STEAM Fellows cohort, click HERE.

Details of the STEAM program for child care teachers: 
  • Attend monthly, full-day, in-person training sessions at the Creative Discovery Museum in downtown Chattanooga with your 9 other cohort members.
  • The program runs September 2023 – April 2024
  • You will be paid for your time while in training and a substitute will be provided to cover your classroom while you attend training.
  • If selected to be a part of the STEAM Fellows cohort, the training is free and lunch is provided.
  • Each month, participate in hands-on learning at the museum and then implement the concepts you’ve learned in your classroom and watch children bloom.
  • Teacher participants will earn at least 30 CEUs and the training is already approved by TrainTN / TNPAL.
  • Upon successful completion of the training, fellows will receive $500 of STEAM materials for their classrooms to continue STEAM lessons for children.
  • The culmination of the cohort will be a final project using the information learned and materials provided by the program, to implement and study a STEAM concept in your classroom.
  • Priority will be given to child care provider/agency applicants in the 37404, 37406, and 37412 zip codes and those in the surrounding area who serve economically disadvantaged children.
  • Funding for this one-year program is made possible by a federal grant from the City of Chattanooga. For this reason, we will work closely with providers to ensure monthly payroll records for the substitute are collected. We will also have an initial set of questions for participants to answer.
  • Questions can be emailed to earlymatters@chatt2.org


Musical instruments on the ground

Applications for this program have closed. 

This application is for child care teachers interested in hosting one of ten UTC-Wolf Trap teaching artists in their classrooms. Teaching artists will work with teachers and students on integrating a new artform into their daily lesson plans.

Participating teachers can earn up to 20 professional development hours. Upon completion, teachers receive a $250 participation stipend, as do their directors. Teachers will also receive $100 worth of supplies to build future lessons. 

To view a video to understand what teaching artists do in the classroom: Click HERE

College tuition last-dollar scholarships

Child reaching into piggy bank

Early Matters wants to help you take some college classes! Child care teachers with college credits in early childhood can get on the WAGE$ pay scale and earn MORE MONEY.  

Through the Quality Matters Fund, we are distributing ARPA funds from the City of Chattanooga to help child care teachers pay for up to two higher ed classes each. Funds are first-come, first-served and can be used toward tuition and fees (not books and materials). 

Funds can also be used to cover your TECTA co-pay. Just fill out the application below.

It’s OK if you have failed a class previously. The only requirements are: 


  • You both live and work in Hamilton County, TN (at a licensed child care agency). 
  • You are interested in enrolling in early childhood education and development courses at Chattanooga State Community College or the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga 
  • With your application, you must upload a signed copy of the COSIGNER AGREEMENT signed by your employer or another cosigner. This document states they will reimburse the Quality Matters Fund in the UNLIKELY event that you fail a course. (But we know you’re going to pass!)


Click the yellow button below to request tuition assistance for this semester or next!

Funds can be used for the Fall 2023 or Spring 2024 semesters, so there is a rolling deadline to apply for tuition assistance. However, please submit your application at least 5 days before the start of classes, to give our team enough time to process the paperwork.
Please be aware that it is your responsibility to apply to college as non-degree seeking and enroll in Early Childhood courses. The below table shows when college applications are due and when classes start. This video shows how to apply as non-degree seeking.

When you apply, you will get a response from both our staff and someone from the college where you've applied to enroll within 2-3 business days.

Key dates for 2023-24 school year

Chattanooga State Community College

University of Tennessee-Chattanooga

Fall 2023

Spring 2024

Fall 2023

Spring 2024

College Application due

May 01, 2023

Nov 11, 2023

Classes begin*

Aug 14, 2023

Oct 09, 2023

Not posted

Aug 21, 2023

Jan 08, 2024

Last day to add/drop classes

Aug 16, 2023

Not posted

Aug, 23, 2024

Jan 14, 2024

Final Grades Available

Oct 06, 2023

Dec 15, 2023

Not posted

Dec 19, 2023

May 07, 2024

For help filling out your application, watch our technical assistance video linked below. We have answered a lot of questions on the Frequently Asked Questions page. And you can still email any remaining questions to earlymatterschatt@gmail.com.


If you’ve never done college before and think you can’t – just know that we believe in you and there are many supports available to help you succeed! You deserve to be paid for the unique skills you have in nurturing the young minds in the classroom and this is one way to make that happen. 



If you have a love of nurturing the minds of our youngest residents, consider becoming a part-time support staff in one of our local child care programs. We are seeking 10 people to serve as a consistent presence in a local child care for one year, stepping in to sub in classrooms when the full-time teacher is sick, needs to take care of a sick child, or is attending training. You will be an integral part of helping a child care provider (and the children enrolled) thrive. 

Child care teachers interested in working for the dedicated substitute pilot should submit their resume or job history* to earlymatterschatt@gmail.com

Details of the dedicated substitute program:

  • Hours and Pay: 20-30 hours per week at $13 – $15 per hour, depending on education or certificates
  • Length of Position: One year
  • Training and Support Available: Teachers who join the pilot program will be a part of a 10-teacher cohort. The cohort will attend a paid, full-day training before starting at the child care agencies. The cohort will come back together once each quarter to attend professional development. 
  • Interview Process: Candidates will first be invited to short virtual interview. If selected to move on, we will connect you to a child care provider for an in-person interview. If the provider feels like you’d be a good fit, you can begin your background check and fingerprinting process as an employee. We will pay the provider directly for your time. 
  • For questions, please email earlymatterschatt@gmail.com and we will continue to post answers to commonly asked questions on this page. 

*Job history template can be downloaded HERE


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