NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — At the end of the month, billions in government funding for childcare centers will run out, leaving Tennessee facilities concerned.

The American Rescue Plan Act’s Child Care Stabilization program has been a lifeline for families and childcare facilities over the past couple of years, but in just a few weeks, the program is expected to end unless lawmakers act.

“People are really scrambling to go, ‘Okay, now what do we do? How do we address this moving forward? How do we make sure that we can keep the staff we have and recruit new good staff?'” said Fannie Battle Day Home for Children Executive Director Kristie Ryan.

Fannie Battle is one of the oldest daycare facilities in the country and the second oldest in Tennessee, according to its website.

The non-profit has received three rounds of government funding over the past couple of years. Ryan said the funds have helped keep the facility’s rates low and its staff quality high.

“Staffing is still an issue. It’s better than it was, I don’t know, this time last year, for sure, but we’re still having challenges with keeping the good staff that we have, making sure that they’re, you know, they want to stick around,” she said.

With many department stores and fast food chains raising their wages, childcare centers like Fannie Battle have been using these funds to stay competitive and retain talent, Ryan explained.

“Many people don’t realize how much is involved financially with operating a childcare center. There are lots of expectations as far as rules and regulations and continuing education. That’s really, really important for us to do, so in order for us to do just the basics, salaries are usually kind of at the tail end of what we’re able to fund at the end of the year,” she said.

At the moment, Ryan has made a promise to the parents of the more than 100 children under her care that Fannie Battle will not raise prices. However, she can’t make that same guarantee for the years to come.

“I don’t know what next year will bring,” she said. “But that’s always just the first step to go to is raising those rates and seeking additional funding from other sources.”

The second step is either reducing her staff members’ salaries or not providing them with the bonuses and benefits she’d like. This could potentially lead to employees leaving and the facility being able to care for fewer children.

“The less we can do to change a situation for a child, the better. We want to try to be as consistent with the care as we possibly can,” Ryan explained. “That’s already been a challenge over the last couple of years, and that’s not what we want to do.”

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A Better Balance, which is a worker advocacy non-profit, said this potential lack of funding in the future will impact more than childcare facilities.

“When working mothers have to either potentially cut down on their hours at work or even leave the workforce altogether because they simply do not have access to affordable childcare, that has consequences for the entire family,” said Feroza Freeland, the policy manager for A Better Balance.

Freeland wants to see lawmakers address the high prices, underpaid staff, and limited availability of childcare in the short term by giving out another round of funding, but she also wants to see them implement new initiatives to raise workers’ wages and make childcare more accessible.