One of the greatest challenges for all families with infants, young, or school-aged children is finding nurturing, safe, developmentally-appropriate and affordable childcare. Yet childcare costs, on average, consume a significant portion of family income. The proportion can be greater for those families earning less. Quality, affordable child care is key in developing cognitive and social-emotional skills.
Why It Matters
Approximately 795,600 0 to 5 year olds lived in Georgia in 2017.
The physical, emotional, and social development of young children beginning with prenatal care impacts their chances for lifetime success. From birth, both good and bad experiences, can greatly affect the trajectory of a child’s life. Providing children with quality communication; nutrition; cognitive, emotional, and physical supports; as well as minimizing stressors, are all key to developing the brain’s immediate and lifelong responses as a child grows into adulthood.
Where Georgia Stands
Highlights of Our Work
The average cost of center-based child care in Georgia is more than the average cost of in-state college tuition.
Our work in this area:
Ensuring Georgia’s youngest learners enter Kindergarten with school readiness skills
Voices is working with the Department of Early Care and Learning to revise their quality standards to improve nutrition, physical activity and social-emotional learning.
Educating policymakers on Childcare and Parent Services expansion
Voices is working to expand funding for the CAPS program. Only 11% of eligible low-income families receive Federal Subsidies to pay for childcare because Georgia’s appropriation to match the federal funds is low. By increasing Georgia’s match, we can make quality child care affordable for more families.
In 2017, Voices, Georgia Organics, Quality Care for Children (QCC), the Common Market, and Little Ones Learning Center received funding from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to design and build a “Farm to Early Care and Education (ECE)” program that could be replicated across our state. Together, we are working to increase access to healthy, locally-grown foods and opportunities for good nutrition and physical activity in ECE settings.
Farm to ECE has been shown to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by 20-30%.
Our work in this area includes:
Policy research to inform systems transformation
Voices leads the effort to expand access to fresh, locally-grown, healthy foods in early child care centers through a broad variety of research initiatives to inform the strategic opportunities in Georgia, including a study of alternative procurement and a WIC Farmers Market pilot project.
Farm to ECE education and advocacy
Voices educates policymakers, ECE center director, teachers, and parents about the benefits of and possible avenues for Farm to ECE. We identify policy opportunities to promote farm to ECE, connect ECE directors with resources, and collaborate with the Department of Early Care and Learning to embed farm to ECE in multiple systems components, including Quality Rated Improvement System (QRIS) and Preschool Development Block Grant Needs Assessment.
Georgia Pre-K is open to all four-year-olds in the state, regardless of their parent’s income. In 2018, 61% of all four-year-olds in the state were enrolled in a Georgia Pre-K program.
Our work in this area includes:
Educating on the importance of quality Pre-Kindergarten education
Voices secures and maintains commitments from elected officials to Georgia’s Pre-K program. Nearly all elected officials have read to students during our Georgia Pre-K Week event in all counties statewide. By equipping children with school readiness skills for Kindergarten, they are more likely to experience academic success and a better lifetime well-being than their peers.
Organizing Georgia Pre-K Week
Every year, Voices organizes hundreds of visits to Pre-K centers across the state for elected officials. 79% of all current state legislators have participated in Pre-K Week during their time in office. During Pre-K Week 2019, 137 elected officials and other state leaders made 195 confirmed visits to Pre-K centers in their communities. That year also marked First Lady Marty Kemp’s inaugural celebration of Georgia Pre-K week, with the First Lady visiting two centers. 2019 also marked the first visit from President and CEO of the Georgia Lottery, Gretchen Corbin. Dollars from the Georgia Lottery fund Georgia Pre-K.