Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different types of early education programs?

  • Early Childhood Education Programs under the Tennessee Department of Human Services
  • Child Care Centers provide care for 13 or more children. The Department of Human Services licenses over 2000 centers, which care for more than 171,000 children each day.
  • Family Child Care Homes provide care for at least five but not more than seven unrelated children. Up to 5 additional children related to the primary caregiver may also receive care in family child care homes. Approximately 551 family homes are licensed by DHS.
  • Group Child Care Homes provide care for at least 8 but not more than 12 children. Up to 3 additional school age children may receive care before and after school, on school holidays, on snow days, and during summer vacation. Approximately 488 group homes are licensed by DHS.
  • Drop-In Centers provide care for 15 or more children not to exceed 14 hours per week and for not more than 7 hours per day for any individual child during regular working hours, Monday - Friday 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Drop-in centers can also provide up to 6 additional hours of care per week during evening (after 6 PM) and weekend (until 10 PM on Sunday) hours, as long as the total number of hours per week does not exceed 20 hours for any individual child, exclusive of snow days.
  • *Note: The number and ages of children present determine the number of adult staff required in a child care facility.
  • Examples of child care which do not require licensure:
    • Care provided in a child's own home
    • Care that operates less than three hours a day
    • Care for fewer than five unrelated children

How are early childhood programs rated?

  • Licensed providers are under the regulation of the state of Tennessee. Evaluators regularly inspect facilities and evaluate for health and safety. Use the Tennessee state website to find out more about a particular child care program.
  • Evaluation Report Cards and Star-Quality Program
  • Where do I get more information on licensed providers?

    Is financial help available to families to assist with the cost of childcare?

    Yes, the Department of Human Services offers financial assistance to families who meet eligibility requirements. Visit this link to learn more about the Childcare Payment Assistance program in Tennessee.

    Are there specific COVID-19 recommendations for childcare programs?

    Yes. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) offers recommendations for the operation of childcare programs during COVID19 and the Tennessee Department of Human Services provides additional guidelines for childcare programs in operation during COVID 19. CDC recommendations can be accessed here COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Child Care Programs (

    Will childcare programs in operation during COVID19 limit the individuals who enter the childcare facility?

    Yes, the Tennessee Department of Human Services suggests that childcare providers should prohibit persons from the facility with the exceptions of:
    • Facility staff
    • Persons with a legal authority to enter, including law enforcement officers, child care licensing staff, and Child Protective Services staff
    • Professionals providing services to children
    • Children enrolled at the facility
    • Parents or legal guardians who have children enrolled and present at the facility

    What are the drop-off and pick-up protocols for my child at a childcare program during COVID19?

    Most likely, the drop-off and pick-up of your child will occur outside the facility, unless it is determined that there is a legitimate need for the parent to enter a facility.
    • Hand hygiene stations should be set up at the entrance of the facility, with supervised use.
    • Childcare programs should consider staggering arrival and drop off times and/or have staff come outside the facility to pick up the children as they arrive.

    What are the screening procedures for COVID19 symptoms at the childcare facility?

    Childcare programs in operation during COVID19 should screen staff and children for symptoms upon arrival. Screening includes:
    • asking parents/guardians to take their child’s temperature either before coming to the childcare facility or upon arrival at the childcare facility
    • persons who have a fever of 100.40 (38.00C) or above or other signs of illness should not be admitted to the facility
    • upon arrival to the childcare facility, childcare providers and parents/guardians should remain 6-feet away from one another unless the childcare provider is wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • childcare providers will ask parents/guardians if the child has a fever, shortness of breath, or a cough
    • childcare providers will inspect the child for signs of illness including flushed cheeks, rapid breathing, fatigue or extreme fussiness
    • childcare providers will conduct temperature screenings. The steps include:
      • Perform hand hygiene - Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
      • wear disposable gloves.
      • Check the child’s temperature, reaching around the partition or through the window.
      • Make sure your face stays behind the barrier at all times during the screening.
      • When performing a temperature check on multiple individuals, ensure that a clean pair of gloves is used for each child and that the thermometer has been thoroughly cleaned in between each check.
    • childcare programs will require staff to report any illness to their supervisor and require notification of COVID-19 positive case in employee’s household.

    Do childcare provides have to wear Personal Protective Equipment?

    If social distancing or barrier/partition controls cannot be implemented during screening, personal protective equipment (PPE) can be used when within 6 feet of a child. However, reliance on PPE alone is a less effective control and more difficult to implement, given PPE shortages and training requirements.

    Will the number of children in my child’s class be limited during the COVID19 pandemic?

    Yes, the Tennessee department of Human Services requires childcare providers to limit congregation of children and class sizes to 10 or less.
    • Groupings should include, to the extent possible, the same children each day to minimize exposure
    • Limit the mixing of children, such as staggering playground times and keeping groups separate for special activities such as art, music, and exercising.
    • Clean or disinfect equipment between groups, when possible.

    Will my child have to wear a face covering or a mask at childcare?

    When feasible, staff members and older children should wear face coverings within the facility as recommended by the CDC.
    • Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under age two because of the danger of suffocation.
    • Childcare providers and parents should consider various ways to explain to children why staff and children are wearing face coverings, as appropriate.

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