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UCDD/UCHRA Continuing To Work On Childcare Cost Burden Solutions

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
UCDD/UCHRA Continuing To Work On Childcare Cost Burden Solutions

Another signal of the lack of childcare in Putnam County: the most recent state child well-being report, where Putnam ranked 85th in childcare cost burden.

UCDD/UCHRA Executive Director Mark Farley said the two biggest issues are affordability and capacity. He said that stems from the difficulty of opening a daycare facility in general.

“Work with our state partners the various departments that are involved in the childcare process and help them to understand what is really happening in the rural parts of Tennessee,” Farley said. “I think that’s our first and main focus, is helping them see maybe some changes they can make to make it faster and more affordable to start a daycare.”

Farley said they will continue to work with the state to try and address these issues with childcare costs. He said there is discussion at the state level to use new revenue from sports gambling and create a type of lottery scholarship for childcare. Farley said that legislation is still pending and has not come to fruition yet.

Farley said if they are unable to work out something on the state level to alleviate childcare burdens, it is not out of the question that UCDD/UCHRA will explore avenues as well. Currently, the UCDD board offers grants and revolving fund loans to help existing childcare facilities meet capacity or building needs.

“We’ve got a very unique opportunity with our Empower Upper Cumberland pilot program with the state that is really tackling the poverty issue in rural Tennessee,” Farley said. “And one of the aspects of our program is the ability to look at barriers of getting people back to work and one of the main barriers that we’re finding all across not only the Upper Cumberland but the state as a whole is the lack of affordable childcare and the capacity of childcare to handle the need that we have.”

Farley said it is still early on in the program, but they hope to find more solutions to the childcare cost issue.

“The main issue is with childcare, the business model around childcare is not a lucrative business model,” Farley said. “Nobody is ever going to get wealthy running a daycare they do it because they love children. They do it because they want to give back to their community. So what we’re seeing is a lot of individuals out here trying to fill this issue and they have the best of intentions, it’s just a hard business to get into and maintain.”


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