Thirteen local child care providers can now make capital improvements to increase the quality of their programs, thanks to grants from the Quality Matters Fund. The purpose of the fund, initiated by Early Matters Chattanooga, is to enable child care programs to improve quality or increase the number of available high-quality seats.
Early Matters advocates that positive experiences for young children – especially within high-quality early childhood programming – are essential for child health, learning, and overall well-being.
Rather than focus solely on creating new child care programs for children, the Quality Matters Fund provides existing early learning programs with one-time capital investments needed to expand access to more families across Chattanooga-Hamilton County, as well as increase the rating of lower quality programs.
Funding was first distributed in Spring 2020 and then again in February 2021.
The second round allowed funds to be granted for capital improvements in response to required COVID-19 safety protocols, in an effort to serve more vulnerable families.
“The vast increase in the number of applications speaks to the great need for assistance within our child care system,” said Angela Hayes, Office of Early Learning deputy administrator.
Thirteen applicants were granted a total of $395,242 through the public-private partnership between the City of Chattanooga, Smart City Venture Fund, and The Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, under the United Way of Greater Chattanooga’s fiscal management and the oversight of a Quality Matters Committee. Child care providers plan to use the funds for improvements such as: adding more licensed seats through building new classrooms or relocation expansions; repairing and replacing roofs that were compromised and old; updates to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 such as installing plexiglass and more bathrooms; and replacing malfunctioning HVAC systems for consistent heating and cooling.
“We believe all children in our community should have access to resources and be equipped with the skills they need to succeed and thrive in school,” said Robin Posey, director of Community Impact at the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga. “That begins with improving access to high-quality child care.”
The geographic areas across Chattanooga-Hamilton County where child care providers were granted funds include Tyner, East Chattanooga, Brainerd, Orchard Knob, Eastdale, Bushtown, Avondale and East Lake.
Early Matters is an action team of Chattanooga 2.0.