Chattanooga City Council recently passed grants to support the child care industry’s economic recovery from COVID-19. The approved Head Start and Early Head Start grants allocate over $2 million to support local child care services, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports.
Head Start and Early Head Start are federally-funded programs managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that assist low-income families with child care. Their efforts provide education and early-development resources for children under five years old.
A Chattanooga 2.0 report explains that while 90% of a child’s brain develops before kindergarten, only 1 in 4 Hamilton County children attend an early learning program. Research shows one-fifth of Chattanooga children under 5-years-old live in poverty, and tuition for these early-development programs is unaffordable for a large segment of the population.
The child care industry is currently struggling to retain talent, with child care workers earning in the lowest 2% of all professions, per The Washington Post. Reports show the industry is down 126,700 employees since the start of the pandemic. Over 10,000 workers have left the child care industry since June, and one third of workers expect to leave within the year in search of more sustainable employment. Because of the high cost and inaccessibility of child care, some families are finding it more affordable to stay home rather than continue working.
Low attendance of these programs pose a risk to the child care industry as worker wages exponentially decrease and care facilities become scarce. Chattanooga Times Free Press reveals the Head Start and Early Head Start grants will fund services to 318 local children, enabling more affordable access to early-learning programs.
The Head Start and Early Head Start grants encourage participation in early-development programs by allowing child care workers to earn livable wages and create opportunities for more affordable care to children across Chattanooga. Approval of these grants also supports the Chattanooga 2.0 initiatives of providing young adults with a thriving wage.
Learn more about Head Start and Early Head Start, here.
Learn more about Chattanooga 2.0, here.