The Stacey Abrams for Governor campaign released the Bold Action for a Brighter Future child care plan, a $350 million investment in expanding access to child care and early learning for children ages 0-3 as well as afterschool programs. This will be Georgia’s most significant investment in early childhood education since the launching of pre-K 25 years ago, and the second detailed policy proposal released by the Abrams campaign.
Nearly half a million Georgia children under the age of six have both parents in the labor force, but access to quality child care, especially programs focused on early learning, remains a barrier for too many of our families. The average cost for infant care in Georgia is almost $7,700 — more than college tuition – and child care for two children costs more than average rent in most parts of the state. An estimated 800,000 rural Georgians live in child care deserts where parents are unable to afford high-quality care, and some rural counties have zero Quality Rated child care facilities.
The Bold Action for a Brighter Future Plan will make quality child care affordable for all families through the Bold Start Scholarship program; increase the supply of quality child care options to meet the needs of all families, including those in rural Georgia, those working nights and weekends, and those raising children with disabilities; improve the livelihoods of teachers in child care programs through a tax credit initiative, and lift afterschool as a priority by increasing access and launching the Georgia Afterschool STEAM Initiative.
“Educating children from cradle to career is a fundamental obligation of our state,” said Stacey Abrams. “Quality educational care grows resilient children, provides stability for employers whose employees know their children are in good hands, and invests in the future workforce, beginning in early childhood. As governor, I will be committed to educating bold and ambitious children who believe their future is limitless, regardless of who they are or where they live.”
Georgians are voicing their support for this plan. “It is time we make significant inroads to improve Georgia’s early education and child care options,” said Joe Perreault, founder of Quality Care for Children and retired coordinator at Army Headquarters Child, Youth, and School Services. “We must invest in child care to retain our best teachers and family child care providers and help them earn a living wage, which in turn supports Georgia’s children. Stacey Abrams’ Bold Action for a Brighter Future Plan recognizes the need to support workers and underserved families, and I look forward to seeing the gains our children and our economy make during her time as governor.”
“Georgia parents should be able to work fulfilling jobs without worrying about how they will care for their children, no matter where they live, when they work, or what their children’s educational needs are,” said Representative Pam Dickerson (D-113). “Stacey Abrams’ Bold Action for a Brighter Future Plan demonstrates her commitment to Georgia’s children and working parents, and I look forward to seeing it in action.”
“Ensuring children have access to STEM education is critical to building tomorrow’s workforce,” said Dr. Lonnie Johnson, president and founder of Johnson Research & Development. “Stacey Abrams’ plan to prioritize robotics in afterschool programs shows that she is the kind of leader ready to invest in our children so they can reach their full potential.”
“As a parent who moved my son from one child care center to another because of a lack of quality and affordability, I know how hard it can be for parents to find a good provider they trust,” said Crystal Daigle from Norcross, GA. “With Stacey Abrams’ plan, parents won’t have to scramble to figure out how to access child care and early learning in the years leading up to kindergarten.”
The impact is sweeping. For example, any family spending more of their income on child care than our affordability standard (which will be set at a maximum of between 7-10% of family income) will qualify for a Bold Start Scholarship. Families can use these scholarships in the settings that best meet their needs, whether for home-based care, child care centers, or, if their child is a ready three-year-old, for pre-school. Currently, about 43,000 children 0-3 are in Head Start programs or CAPS. Our investment in the Bold Start Scholarship portion of the plan will make funding available to bring 63,000 more children age 0-3 access to child care.
Support early learning and child care: Quality child care and early learning are critical to fostering school readiness, graduation rates, reading proficiency, and college-going rates. Early care and learning are vital complements to our K-12 investments—as is afterschool programming for school-age children.
Additionally, rural child care access will be expanded to encourage the growth of home-based child care, a critical need in rural communities and among rural workers. Other tenets include its support of children with disabilities and improved access to afterschool and STEAM, where research shows that participation in afterschool programs leads to improved reading and math scores, better classroom behavior and school attendance, reduced criminal behavior and drug use, and better health outcomes. As an initial bold step towards implementing afterschool care options, Georgia must invest in funding robotics programs for children across the state via their school districts or local afterschool programs to help build skills in engineering and coding.
The investment aims to increase number of effective child care businesses and attract and retain good teachers. “As a first step to addressing pay for our state’s child care workers and to provide resources that help clear barriers to entry in the field, Georgia will provide targeted tax credits of up to $1,000 that reward professional development.”