Quality Care for Children maintains a statewide database of registered and licensed child care programs for 877-ALL-GA-KIDS, the statewide child care referral service. As a result, the organization compiles information about cost, subsidy acceptance, financial assistance, special needs experience, types of child care available (choice), Georgia Pre-K, and national accreditation. The database is updated on an ongoing basis.
Understanding the data
Supply and Quality
The table on “supply and quality” shows the number of programs by type (child care centers and family child care homes) as well as the number of programs in compliance and number of programs accredited. It also provides the capacity or number of children that can be served by all programs and by accredited programs.
Type of Care (Choice)
Based on the parent requests for child care received by 877-ALL GA Kids over a 12 month period, the ideal mix of child care in a community would be an equal number of Family Child Care/Group Homes and Child Care Centers. Having the option between family child care and child care centers provides parents the ability to choose the care that best fits their child’s and family’s needs. Family child care is selected most often by parents of infants and toddlers. Parents who choose family child care typically site the flexibility of the schedule (family child care is more likely to provide care during non-traditional hours), typically lower costs, more individualized care, and smaller group size as their reasons. Parents who choose child care centers usually site more opportunities for and diversity in social interactions and more structured learning curriculum as their reasons. These characterizations of family child care and center-based child care are generalizations. There is variety in both types of care.
While compliance is the measure of meeting minimum state licensing standards in child care, national accreditation represents the best practices, the highest quality in child care. Nationally accredited programs exceed state standards in several areas including child/teacher ratios, group sizes, and teacher training and credentials. Child care centers and family child care homes earn accreditation when they meet the higher standards set by the national accreditation body. The accreditation numbers used in this report include programs accredited by the three most recognized national accreditation organizations.
For Child Care Centers or Group Homes:
- NAEYC-National Association for the Education of Young Children
- NECPA-National Early Childhood Program Accreditation
For Family Child Care or Group Homes:
- NAFCC- National Association of Family Child Care
Accreditation is based on the number of NAEYC, NECPA, and NAFCC accredited programs in a county. There are only 34 counties in Georgia with an accredited program.
The “desired capacity” is also listed for “all programs” and for “accredited programs”. Child care programs may be licensed by the state to care for more children than the accrediting body allows, or than they desire. Therefore “desired” capacity provides the most accurate picture of child care supply.
Cost of Care
The majority of parents who call our referral service, 877-ALL-GA-KIDS, name cost as their primary concern when looking for child care. We believe that this reflects an assumption that if child care is licensed and monitored by the state it provides all that children need; a lack of knowledge about the true importance of early care and education; as well as real budgetary restrictions that too often limit choice for young families.
Cost of Care by Age Group
As the chart shows, cost varies by the age of the child with infant care being the most expensive for programs to provide, and for parents to purchase. The cost of child care is often jarring to new parents who are surprised to learn that child care could cost $250 a week or more for accredited infant care. And these costs hit parents at a time when they are on the lower end of their income curve, with their best earning years ahead of them.
Percentage of Income Spent on Child Care
We listed the highest average cost of infant care (family child care versus child care centers) for each county as the average cost. The Department of Human Services suggests that families spend no more than 10% of their household income on child care. We calculated the percentage families spent on child care using the median household income for the county. Very few counties met this 10% threshold.
Lottery-Funded Georgia Pre-K
Pre-K refers to the Georgia Pre-K program funded by the Georgia Lottery for Education. This table does not include “Private Pre-K” or other programs not funded by the Georgia Lottery.
Lottery funded Pre-K slots are at a premium across most of the state. Having access to a lottery funded Pre-K slot allows parents to enroll their child in a free high quality program. While Georgia continues to expand its Pre-K program to serve more of Georgia’s children, the need exceeds the program’s capacity.
The table shows the number of programs and the number and percentage of four year-olds served in the county as compared to the state average. This information was gathered from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement 2010 – 2011 Pre-Kindergarten Report Card.http://reportcard2011.gaosa.org/%28S%28ebp23snzfbmuci3qtlmoe0us%29%29/osr/CountyData.aspx?TestType=accessibility&ID=ALL:ALL
Child Care Subsidy and Financial Assistance
Many families need assistance paying for child care so that they can work and their children can learn. Working parents who are unable to pay for child care and cannot get the assistance they need sometimes resort to options that leave their children unprepared for school success and put their children at risk. Financial assistance usually comes in the form of a child care subsidy for income eligible families or some type of financial assistance provided by the child care program. There are many more families seeking assistance than can be helped by these programs.
Acceptance of CAPS Subsidy
Subsidy acceptance refers to the number of programs in a county that accept the state child care subsidy (CAPS ). The subsidy helps low-income parents who meet certain eligibility requirements to offset the high cost of care. Providers are not required by the state to accept the subsidy. The most common reason for refusing to accept the subsidy is a low reimbursement rate that does not cover the child care program’s cost of providing the care.
Additional Financial Assistance Offered
This refers to the number of programs in a county that offer some form of financial assistance to parents to help them cover the cost of child care. The assistance can come in the form of scholarships, multi-child discounts, or sliding fee scales based on income. Programs usually support their financial assistance programs by garnering support from foundations or private donations.
Special Needs Experience
While all programs must legally accept children with special needs, this does not mean they are fully prepared to provide them the care and education they need. For parents of children with special needs, finding an experienced program is an important part of their child care search. An inclusive program provides all children in the program with valuable experiences that will aide their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, making experience with special needs children relevant to all parents and all children.
Special Needs Experience is based on the number of programs reporting special needs or inclusion training, or professional child care or medical experience in inclusion or with specific disabilities.