Under contract from the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), an Urban Institute team gathered perspectives through surveys and focus groups from more than 7,000 stakeholders across rural and urban Georgia communities in October–November 2021. These parents, early childhood educators and operators, and DECAL staff shared their experiences in, concerns about, and recommendations to strengthen early care and learning in Georgia. In the report, the authors reflect back these perspectives through nine recommendations for how DECAL could allocate its CRRSA and ARP COVID-19 relief funds to support its early care and learning system for children from birth through age 13. The executive summary provides an overview of these nine recommendations and strategies, while the full report details how the team gathered the information, who participated, and what we found. Here are the nine recommendations:
- Provide support to encourage more people to become and remain early childhood educators.
- Focus attention on and provide information about basic health and safety.
- Reconsider group sizes and child-to-staff ratios.
- Provide more accessible information to families about available early care and learning services.
- Consider how to support more providers in offering care, providing longer hours, and participating in CAPS (the child care subsidy program).
- Support providers in taking care of children’s social-emotional and behavioral needs.
- Consider new benchmarks for affordable care in Georgia and CAPS parent contributions.
- Support CAPS program operations to increase responsiveness to parents.
- Offer more grants and supports for financial sustainability and business planning.