CHATTANOOGA, Tenn (WDEF) – Throughout the year local child care services have remained open to care for underserved children and children of parents who are essential workers, but staying open during a pandemic has been a struggle. Luckily there’s some good news on the way.
Child care services like the Chambliss Center for Children, is a vital resource for working families in our area and especially during the pandemic.
“It’s been a crazy year for us and all child care programs. When covid hit Chattanooga we closed to everyone but essential workers’ children. So that caused us to go from about 300 children to 15,” says Katie Harbison, President of Chambliss Center for Children.
But thanks to a $15 million Covid relief grant, monetary relief is finally on its way- and it was all made possible by the Tennessee department of human services & the community foundation of Middle Tennessee.
The funds from the grant can be used for anything related to remaining open during the pandemic.
“We have had to purchase a lot of PPE. Luckily those costs have gone down a little bit. We have gotten a little more stable but we are still doing additional cleaning and sanitizing; that’s all additional costs. We also have additional staffing costs because our ratios are lower. It’s not an inexpensive thing to be doing,” says Harbison.
President of the Chambliss Center for Children says these extra funds will be monumental for their organization and the important role that they play in the community.
“Childcare programs even before the Pandemic had very thin Profit Margins. It’s very difficult to make ends meet. Now it’s even worse because ratios are lower, we have decreased capacities in classrooms , enrollment is not where it was before. It’s a lot of things that changed that have made it even more difficult to operate a childcare program. The additional funds coming from the government will be a lifesaver for all of us,” says Harbison.
The $15 million grant will be split amongst several local agencies across the state.
Chambliss Center for Children says they haven’t reached 100% capacity just yet but they are hoping to be around 90% by the summer.