A Two-Generation Approach
We can build a strong workforce pipeline for Georgia, but we must start early. The foundation of skills needed in school and the workforce is built during a child’s first five years. Young children’s brains develop more than one million new neural connections every second. These connections build the foundation on which all future learning, behavior, and health depend.
Investments in high-quality early education programs yield short-and long-term returns for Georgia. The early care and education industry generates $4.7 billion of economic activity in the state each year. The availability of child care in Georgia supports annual parent earnings of at least $24 billion and creates over 84,000 jobs, strengthening the workforce and contributing to the overall state economy.
Georgia businesses need employees who are job-ready and well prepared, but the current system is not proving enough of them. On the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test, just 35 percent of 4th graders scored at or above proficient. Seventy-five percent of students who are not reading at grade level by 3rd grade will never catch up to their peers, putting them at risk of never graduating high school. Access to quality early education can help put these children on a path to success, which will have positive ramifications, not just for the children and their families, but for all Georgians.
Meeting Economic Needs, Today and Tomorrow:
Early learning improves employee productivity today and builds the foundation of skills for tomorrow’s workforce.
GEEARS’ Opportunities Lost report underscores how child care challenges affect parents’ participation in the workforce and the state’s bottom line, leading to an estimated $1.75 billion in losses for Georgia each year.
Access to high-quality affordable childcare allows parents to go to work every day and contribute to Georgia’s economy.
- Employees with safe, reliable, quality child care are less likely to miss days of work due to child care related challenges.
- Employees with safe, reliable, quality child care are more likely to be able to focus on their work without the anxiety of worrying about their children while they are at work.
Simultaneously, their children are gaining skills that prepare them for school and children who start school ready to learn are more likely to perform at grade level, less likely to drop out of school, and more likely to become part of a strong workforce in the future. Their access to quality early learning will lead to eventual higher incomes, creating a stronger consumer base.