Smart Steps Application Process

Smart Steps Application Assistance For Child Care Support

Last Updated on January 27, 2023 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt

Smart Steps Child Care Assistance Program is open to income-eligible parents who have children six(6) weeks through kindergarten. Smart Steps participants are responsible for paying a portion of the child care costs, or a co-pay that is based on a sliding income. The program will allow children to enroll in high-quality, affordable child care facilities as well as the Imagination Library. Due to limited space, eligible families will be given priority on a first come, first served basis. So, we hope this article will support the application process of Smart Steps Program for families in need.

Eligibility Requirements For Smart Steps Application

If you meet these eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to receive SmartSteps Child Care Payment Assistance.

  • You must work no less than 30 hours per week or enroll in a full-time post-secondary education program, or a combination thereof.
  • You must have a child aged six (6) weeks to five (5) years.
  • The 85th percentile of Tennessee’s State Median Income (SMI), must be below which the household gross income. The Household Income Limits chart can be found in the flier below.

Smart Steps Application Process

Apply Online via the DHS Customer Portal. You can also complete the form below and fax, mail, or bring it to your TDHS office. If you have questions about child care payment assistance or need a paper application, please email them with the email address:

Smart Steps Child Care Application Process

Once you have completed the application, please submit it to your DHS County office. A full listing of office locations can be found here:

Additional Information

Smart Steps participants have the option to choose from over 2,400 DHS-licensed child care facilities throughout the state. Parents can also use the tools provided by the department to help them choose child care. 

These tools include the find child care tool which can be found on the DHS website and the Child Care Report Card that is posted in licensed child care facilities. The Star Quality Program recognizes providers who exceed the minimum licensing requirements.

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