Frequently Asked Questions

Ready for school

Why high-quality pre-K?

Research shows that attending high-quality Pre-K helps prepare four-year-old children for success in school and life. Children who participate in high-quality Pre-K have stronger math and reading skills in elementary school. They also have the opportunity to develop foundational social and emotional skills. These children are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. Pre-K is one of the early steps families can take in supporting their child’s educational success.

What do we mean by “high-quality?”

High-quality Pre-K programs focus on academic and social-emotional growth at the child’s level of learning. While all centers follow health and safety guidelines, high-quality programs emphasize positive interactions between children and their teachers, peers, and the environment. These areas of focus can be broken down into Nashville’s Core Four.

What are Nashville’s Core Four?

What are the different types of early education programs?

  • DHS
    • Child Care Centers provide care for 13 or more children. The Department of Human Services licenses over 2000 centers, which care for more than 171,000 children each day.
    • Family Child Care Homes provide care for at least five but not more than seven unrelated children. Up to 5 additional children related to the primary caregiver may also receive care in family child care homes. Approximately 551 family homes are licensed by DHS.
    • Group Child Care Homes provide care for at least 8 but not more than 12 children. Up to 3 additional school age children may receive care before and after school, on school holidays, on snow days, and during summer vacation. Approximately 488 group homes are licensed by DHS.
    • Drop-In Centers provide care for 15 or more children not to exceed 14 hours per week and for not more than 7 hours per day for any individual child during regular working hours, Monday - Friday 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Drop-in centers can also provide up to 6 additional hours of care per week during evening (after 6 PM) and weekend (until 10 PM on Sunday) hours, as long as the total number of hours per week does not exceed 20 hours for any individual child, exclusive of snow days.
    • Additional Note: The number and ages of children present determine the number of adult staff required in a child care facility.
    • Examples of child care which do not require licensure:
      • Care provided in a child's own home
      • Care that operates less than three hours a day
      • Care for fewer than five unrelated children
  • Department of Education (DOE)
    • Metro Action Commission Head Start of Nashville and Davidson County - Provides Pre-K education at no cost to income-eligible families with children ages 4-5 years old. There are 7 Head Start Centers throughout Nashville. Metro Action Commission also offers no-cost Early Head Start starting at age 3.
    • Metro Nashville Public Schools - Provides Pre-K education at Early Learning Centers (4), School-based classrooms located in elementary schools across the district, and two Montessori sites Hull-Jackson and Stanford Montessori.

How are programs rated?

  • Licensed providers are under the regulation of the state of Tennessee. Evaluators regularly inspect facilities and evaluate for health and safety. Use the Tennessee state website to find out more about a particular child care program.
  • Evaluation Report Cards
  • Child Care Star Rating Program

Where do I get more information on licensed providers?

How can I help cover costs?

Additional Parent Resources