Childcare & After-School Programs
It’s 7:00 a.m. and you need a nurturing, safe place to leave your toddler. When you’re away from your child at work, you want to have peace-of-mind in knowing that he or she is being given the best care throughout the day.
It’s 3:00 p.m. and school is out. Your seventh grader can get himself home on the school bus, but you don’t like the crowd that hangs around the neighborhood after school. His friends are going to the Oasis Center this afternoon for a workshop on bike repair. He’d like to go, but you don’t have room in your family budget for a bus pass this month.
These scenarios are common realities for many families in Middle Tennessee. These families should have access to quality, developmentally-appropriate childcare and after-school programs, regardless of income level. In order to even the playing field for all children in Middle Tennessee, support for local nonprofit childcare centers and afterschool programs is as vital as ever.
Having a stable and healthy place to leave your child during the workday is a necessity, especially during their developmental years. New research shows that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which include maltreatment, bullying, and neglect, can have detrimental effects on a child’s mental and physical health. They can even lead to an early death. The higher your ACE score, the higher your chances are of developing heart disease, obesity, depression, and drug addiction. This is why it is important to have the best childcare available to families of all incomes and backgrounds.
In Tennessee, the average annual cost of childcare for one 4-year-old is $4,515, a high and often unrealistic price for low-income families. Yet research indicates that kids who start school without quality care will struggle to keep up with those who have had enriching experiences. While the Department of Human Services can offer a partial solution and help with a childcare certificate for parents enrolled in the Families First program (Tennessee’s welfare-to-work program), this assistance does not cover all costs of childcare.
Middle Tennessee nonprofit childcare centers cannot keep their doors open based only on the government assistance and fees families can afford to pay per child. Supplemental funding must come through the generosity of our Middle Tennessee community.
(graphics taken from the State of Tennessee’s Final ACE Report)
The best way for Tennessee parents to ensure that their children are not encountering ACEs by being left with an inadequate childcare provider is to search for childcare options through ChildcareNashville, an initiative of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. It is a one-stop shop for both parents and teachers that includes information on healthcare, food & nutrition, and childcare programs in our community. This initiative even offers financial back-office assistance for childcare centers so that administrators can focus their time and attention on the children in their care instead of paying and collecting bills.
Research provided by the Afterschool Alliance shows that 29% (297,351) of K-12 youth in Tennessee are responsible for taking care of themselves after school and that, “of all Tennessee children not currently enrolled in afterschool, 36% (318,581) would be likely to participate IF an afterschool program were available in their community.” Former Nashville Mayor, Karl Dean, said, “A student only spends about 20 percent of their time in the classroom. We need to make sure there are consistent afterschool programs available, specifically for our middle school students in our most high-need schools.”
By providing educational opportunities and enriching activities for these youths, after-school programs and centers can offer alternatives to potentially less productive and sometimes harmful activities in which youth may be tempted to participate when left to their own supervision. You can learn more about after-school programs in Middle Tennessee here.
How You Can Help
Donate snacks and classroom resources to nonprofit childcare and after-school centers
Support tuition scholarships
Support teacher training and scholarships for teachers to obtain degrees as required by new standards
Volunteer for an after-school program
Encourage your student to take advantage of the Nashville Metro Youth Ridership Program
Become a mentor or support mentoring programs through donations or volunteer services
Sign up to be a substitute teacher at a childcare center
Updated 8/2/16 by Kathryn Bennett