22% decrease in number of child care programs in Georgia
Impacting 43,000 children
Hunger is a growing problem
ATLANTA, April 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Already struggling in a difficult economy, conditions went from bad to worse in 2010 for Georgia's child care providers and the thousands of children and families they serve.
According to a new report released by Quality Care for Children, Georgia lost 1,395 child care programs due to the poor economy – a net loss of 43,000 child care slots statewide. This represents an 11 percent decline in the number of child care centers and a more than 30 percent decline in family child care.
The 1,395 closures are more than double the 600 shutdowns reported by Quality Care for Children last year.
And the worst may not be over. The annual statewide survey of 485 child care programs also found that 20 percent of child care centers and 33 percent of family child care providers are considering closing their doors. Approximately one in three family child care providers say they're worried about having to close, an increase from last year when one in four had the same concern.
"We've seen a huge spike in the number of vacancies in child care programs throughout the state, brought on by parents who've either lost jobs or seen their income reduced and then had to withdraw their children," said Quality Care for Children CEO Pam Tatum, "At the same time, costs to operate a center have never been higher – further adding to the financial pressure on providers. The most pressing concern is: Who is now caring for these children? In tough economic times, parents have fewer options and often feel financially pressured to leave their kids in care situations that may be unsuitable – even dangerous – in order to make ends meet. Ultimately it's the kids who pay the price."
Tatum said nearly 65 percent of families in Georgia use some form of child care today.
QCC also reported a troubling new trend tied to the economy: More children are arriving to child care hungry. A significant number of providers are reporting that children appear more stressed and are living in homes that are experiencing hardship, evidenced by the number of children coming into the provider's home hungry in the morning, especially after weekends.
QCC ensures more than 10,000 children in family child care receive nutritious snacks and meals every day through the USDA Child Care Food Program. "Clearly, that's not enough," Tatum said.
"Any child who starts their day hungry; who seems visibly stressed; and who is not in a stable, nurturing quality environment is not getting the start that is essential to their healthy development and the ultimate health of Georgia's economy," Tatum said.
For the third consecutive year, QCC reported substantial declines in the overall quality of child care programs as well, measured by the number of programs that have cut staff hours, eliminated staff positions, and spent less on needed improvements and supplies such as books and toys. "These cuts and lack of investments can be devastating to the quality of early education in Georgia. Our children can't afford another year of decline."
Copies of the report are available at www.qualitycareforchildren.org.
About Quality Care for Children
Quality Care for Children is an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization with a 30-year history of ensuring Georgia's infants and young children are nurtured and educated. The organization's primary focus is on creating excellence in child care and early learning by:
- Building Supply: providing training and resources to child care providers to increase the overall quality of care.
- Finding Quality: helping parents access quality affordable care for their children to ensure the best early learning experiences.
Quality Care for Children (QCC) is the single source of child care referrals for the State of Georgia through 877-ALL-GA-KIDS help line and www.allgakids.org. The organization also works with child care providers to ensure children are fed nutritious meals through the child care food program. In total, the organization leverages more than $4 million annually in food reimbursements.
SOURCE Quality Care for Children