Metro Nashville Pledges $7.5 Million to United Way of Greater Nashville, Raphah Institute to Address Child Care Crisis

Apr 8, 2022 | News

Funding to Stabilize Local Child Care Providers Struggling to Serve Under-Resourced Families

On Tuesday, Metro Council members approved $7.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to be awarded to United Way of Greater Nashville and the Raphah Institute. The funds will be used to increase low-income families’ access to quality child care—a longstanding crisis across Greater Nashville.

“Families living below the poverty line have limited or no access to high-quality early learning, leaving parents with impossible choices that often keep their families in poverty for generations,” says Apri Gassaway, United Way of Greater Nashville’s director of education. “For the first time in Nashville, funding will support the full ecosystem of child care options in Nashville. We know that when kids have access to high-quality, affordable early education, they have a greater chance of succeeding in kindergarten and beyond—and parents have the opportunity to work and provide for their families. Davidson County needs a coordinated approach to solving this community crisis and giving all kids and families the quality, affordable early education that they deserve.”

A combined annual loss of $2.3 million is absorbed across United Way’s network of 10 early childhood center partners due to the cost of high-quality care, the state’s increasing but inadequate reimbursement rate and the cost to serve low-income families (families who live at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line) on a sliding scale.

United Way will leverage Metro Nashville funding to stabilize up to 12 center-based child care providers that serve low-income families and those enrolled in the Tennessee Department of Human Services Smart Steps Child Care Assistance Program, incentivizing child care centers for the first time to serve more families in this demographic. The centers include:

  • Eighteenth Avenue Family Enrichment Center
  • Fannie Battle Day Home for Children
  • First Steps, Inc.
  • King’s Daughters Child Development Center
  • McNeilly Center for Children
  • St. Luke’s Community House
  • St. Mary Villa Child Development Center at St. Vincent de Paul
  • Wayne Reed Christian Childcare Center
  • 15th Avenue North Learning Academy at Bethlehem Centers
  • Schrader Lane Vine Hill Childcare Center

United Way is working to identify two additional sites that serve a significant population of Hispanic/Latino children and families where at least 30 percent of children served are from low-income household—based on the two lowest performing subgroups from Metro Nashville Public Schools third grade literacy data.

“In 2020, United Way was so fortunate to receive a generous gift of $20 million from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott,” says Erica Mitchell, United Way of Greater Nashville’s executive vice president and chief community impact officer. “Addressing the child care crisis in Nashville is a major part of that investment plan, and this Metro funding is a significant first step in engaging public and private partnerships to further that transformational change in Nashville.”

The plan can substantially reduce or eliminate a combined annual loss of $235 million for Nashville parents, taxpayers and businesses due to an insufficient child care system, according to a 2019 Child Care Study by Tennesseans for Quality Early Education.

To learn more about United Way’s early education work, visit unitedwaygreaternashville.org/to-give-kids-an-equal-chance.