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Tuesday, Jul 11, 2023

Ballad Health announces new childcare center on Tusculum University campus

Following through on its commitment to expand dependable access to high-quality childcare, Ballad Health has announced plans to open a new childcare center in Greeneville, located on Tusculum University’s campus.

The Ballad Health Center for Early Learning in Greeneville, slated to open later this year, will repurpose one of the university’s existing buildings and offer much-needed childcare capacity for health system team members and community members. It will join Ballad Health’s existing system of childcare centers and follows the health system’s announcement last year to open up to 11 new centers across the region.

“Expanding childcare options is an integral part of Ballad Health’s commitment to be a model for rural healthcare and an employer of choice,” said Ballad Health Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Alan Levine. “The childcare shortage is a national issue that is heightened in our region, creating challenges for virtually every employer. Based on our research, there is a shortage of at least 12,000 childcare slots in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Employers must be concerned about this issue to have a stable workforce, and we are no exception.

“Providing this expanded service will be a tremendous benefit to our team members and will also provide much-needed capacity for hundreds of community members and low-income families. We appreciate Tusculum University’s shared vision to support this need.”

According to independent research by Tennesseans for Quality Early Education, 98% of parents in the Appalachian Highlands with children under the age of 5 report their work productivity and career opportunities have suffered due to inadequate access to childcare. Two-thirds of parents say they have trouble finding child care at all, with many childcare facilities only offering spots on a waitlist, leaving parents without options for years. These barriers are exacerbated by the fact that 48% of Tennesseans live in a childcare “desert” – an area with three times as many children as licensed childcare spots. The Tennessee Department of Human Services has particularly noted Greene County as one of the Tennessee counties most in need of additional childcare options.

“Tusculum recognizes the power and influence of quality child care for educational, emotional and social development,” said Dr. Scott Hummel, the university’s president. “These children will ultimately be better positioned for academic and career success. As an institution committed to civic engagement and experiential learning, Tusculum is pleased to extend our partnership with Ballad Health by supporting this facility on our campus.”

Once open, the center will operate expanded hours from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., serving up to 92 children and employing 21 team members. The center will begin accepting applications soon and will be searching for teachers with a bachelor’s degree or child development certification and assistants both with and without experience. Training will be provided for assistants without certification.

“The goal, with all of our Centers for Early Learning, is to advance the development of the whole child with play-based learning that supports early literacy, numeracy and science skills along with social and emotional development,” said Dr. Amy Doran, Ballad Health’s corporate director of early childhood care and education. “This model will help ensure children are prepared for kindergarten, setting them up for academic success later in life.”

The new Center for Early Learning in Greeneville, as with all Ballad Health childcare centers, will also operate under the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network banner and is another step forward for children’s healthcare in that community. Current Greeneville-based programs for women and children include inpatient care through Greeneville Community Hospital’s Family Birth Center, as well as outpatient services with pediatric physical therapy and Ballad Health Medical Associates practices for obstetrics and gynecology and pediatrics.

The children’s network also extends through community-based programs such as Strong Starts, which connects parents with community resources that help families and children from birth through kindergarten, and Strong Futures, a 360-degree, multi-generational system of care for mothers and families struggling with substance use disorders.

“The Ballad Health Center for Early Learning, like all of our Niswonger Children’s Network services in Greeneville and beyond, reaches deeply into our communities to affect strong starts for children and strengthen families by promoting educational outcomes, economic success and generational health improvement,” Levine said.

The Center for Early Learning in Greeneville is planning to open this fall. Details, including registration information, will be announced as they’re available, and specific questions can be directed to Doran at Learn more about the Ballad Health Niswonger Children’s Network. Those who wish to apply to work at the forthcoming center should apply at Ballad Health Careers.

Group photo of Center for Early Learning team