Child Care Services

  • Need Child Care Assistance?

    Smart Steps Child Care Assistance may be right for you. See below for details.
  • Attention Child Care Providers:

    Important Information on the Out of State Registry Proceess is currently available.

    Tennessee's one-stop shop for children's health,education, development, and support.
  • Looking for Child Care?

    Use our Find Child Care tools to find a licensed child care agency near you.


Do you need child care payment assistance while you work or attend school? 

You may be eligible for Smart Steps Child Care Payment Assistance if you meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be employed no less than 30 hours per week, or be enrolled and attending a post-secondary education program full-time, or a combination of both
  • Must have a child between ages six (6) weeks old through five (5) years old
  • Assistance may be available for eligible children who do not have access to Pre-K in their county or who are on a waiting list. The child may not remain in the Smart Steps program once he or she becomes eligible for Kindergarten or is selected to attend from a Pre-K waiting list

Learn more about Smart Steps  here. To apply, print and return the Smart Steps Application to your nearest DHS Child Care Office, found here:

Attention Child Care Providers: Click here for new information on the Out of State Registry Check Process.  

About Child Care Services:

Child Care Care Services  plans, implements, and coordinates activities and programs to ensure quality, accessibility and the health and safety of children in care.

The Child and Adult Care Licensing section is responsible for monitoring child and adult care agencies to ensure the health and safety of the young children and vulnerable adults in care.

Child Care Assessment staff use a quality measurement instrument to assess each licensed provider annually and establish the Star-Quality Report Card Rating and Evaluation System for facilities.

The Child Care Certificate Program provides assistance to families who need help paying for child care in order to meet the requirements of the Families First program. Child care assistance not only gives Families First parents/caretakers peace of mind while they participate in work and work-related activities but also provides quality child care for children.

Within the Child Care Services section, statewide early childhood-related services are managed through child care partners including Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R), Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance (TECTA), and Tennessee’s Outstanding Providers Supported through Available Resources (TOPSTAR). These services provide a support system for improving and maintaining the overall quality of child care across the state and help provide parents and families with safe, healthy and developmentally appropriate child care options. Child Care Resource and Referral assist both parents and providers. For parents, the CCR & R offers information on child care providers in their area, answers questions on types of care that is available and provides helpful information on safe, healthy and developmentally appropriate options.

Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) Plan - FFY 2014-2015

FFY 2016-2018 Child Care and Development Fund Draft Plan

Child Care Data FFY 2015


Report Child Care violations/complaints by calling the Child Care Complaint Hotline at 1-800-462-8261  

Have more questions? Contact a child care licensing office near you.