Tennessee child care providers brace for funding ‘cliff’ that could leave parents with even fewer options

This article was originally published by Rachel Wegner and Melissa Brown in The Tennessean

Fernando sat quietly among a group of students at St. Mary Villa Child Development Center on Monday morning as a teacher read to them.

“What does Fernando do?” the teacher asked.

“Nothin’,” a little girl quickly answered, prompting a few laughs.

It’s important to note that Fernando is a stuffed frog. The teachers use him to model how to sit quietly and pay attention to the pre-K class at St. Mary Villa, a North Nashville child development center that cares for children from infancy to 5 years old.

Fernando the frog sits with the children during circle time to teach the children how to sit and listen. When asked, “What does Fernando the frog do?” The children said “nothing” at St. Mary Villa Child Development Center in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, Sept. 25, 2023.

St. Mary is among the 220,000 child care programs nationwide facing the expiration of $24 billion in COVID-19 pandemic relief funds on Sept. 30. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates those funds, awarded to more than 80% of the country’s licensed child care centers, covered nearly 10 million children. The money helped with things like personnel costs, rent, utilities and personal protective equipment …

View the full article in The Tennessean.

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