ATLANTA, GA – The Atlanta School Board’s approval this week of a plan to provide child care scholarships to the children of eligible employees represents an exciting step in the advancement of a citywide strategy to expand access to high quality affordable early education and other programs to support early childhood development.
In 2018, stakeholders in the City of Atlanta came together, thanks to the leadership of GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, to dream big dreams about the future of Atlanta’s youngest children and their families. These leaders crafted a strategy and established a structure so that their vision of ensuring that Atlanta’s youngest children and their families have access to affordable and high-quality early education experiences, health care supports, and a community that nurtures them throughout their first five years to ensure that Atlanta is the very best city to raise a family.
Today, this collaborative effort called PAACT: Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive is the foundation behind Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens’ early education initiative and the commitment of $20 million in funds from public and private partners, including the City of Atlanta, Atlanta Public Schools and private foundations and businesses.
This week, the Atlanta School Board approved a plan to task PAACT partner Quality Care for Children with disseminating a portion of the funds—$4.5 million—in the form of child care scholarships for Atlanta Public Schools employees who meet income criteria and have children ages zero to three.
“APS has made a bold commitment to support early learning in Atlanta,” says Shawnell Johnson, director of PAACT. “These scholarship funds to support some of our most essential workers and their children are a key part of the PAACT strategy. And Quality Care for Children is a valued PAACT implementation partner with expertise in helping provide scholarships that increase access to high-quality early care and learning for families with low incomes.”
Access to affordable high-quality child care allows parents to join the workforce while their children are gaining the early foundation that they need to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.
“We are so grateful for the investment that Dr. Herring, Board Chair Eshe Collins, and the entire school board have made in the PAACT strategies through this scholarship,” says Mindy Binderman, Executive Director of GEEARS. “This is a critical part of a holistic plan for the City of Atlanta that includes improving the quality of child care programs, increasing access to these programs, supporting the child care workforce, and connecting families to other services that bolster child health and family wellbeing. Thanks to the commitment of the City of Atlanta, APS, and private funding partners, we are well on our way to keeping our promise that Atlanta will be the best city in which to raise a child.”
The APS employees’ child care scholarships will be distributed to approximately 165 children/year over the next three years (July 2023 – June 2026). Receiving a scholarship, which will be designated for a Quality Rated child care program, will mean that families pay no more than 10 percent of their household income in tuition. The high quality of their children’s care will also give parents and caregivers the confidence and stability to maintain their mission-critical APS positions, improve their job performance, and reduce their absenteeism. More information regarding eligibility and the application process is expected to be released in the coming weeks.
“This investment,” Johnson notes, “is a perfect expression of PAACT’s objectives to improve child care quality, increase access to such care, and build capacity to serve families’ health and wellbeing needs. We’re proud to see our teamwork with the City of Atlanta, APS, and Quality Care for Children reap tangible results so quickly.”
To learn more about PAACT, click here.