GEORGIA (WJBF) – Federal funding for Georgia’s childcare stabilization program – STABLE 4WARD- ends this month.
During the height of COVID, Congress approved money to help stabilize childcare across the nation.
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning received two billion dollars- they used half of it for STABLE 4WARD.
“We have done that in Georgia- we have stabilized the childcare industry,” said Amy M. Jacobs, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. “And what I mean by that is when you look at the number of licensed child care programs pre-pandemic to now, it is the same- it’s about 4,500 child care programs.”
Jacobs tells us that 86 percent of Georgia child care programs took advantage of STABLE dollars to help with scholarships, staff bonuses and facility enhancements.
“The STABLE fund has helped us be able to pay our educators living wages,” said Shartoria Rackins, co-owner of A Child’s World Daycare and Learning Center in Waynesboro. “It’s helped us no schlep off the operational cost to our parents. And it’s also helped us provide relief for some families who can’t afford it.”
“When everybody was in fear and when everything was being shut down,” said Rackins. “To be able to open back up and provide this care for parents, it was major, it was huge.”
While payments ended this month, childcare programs have until June 2024 to use the money.
Rackins says that, while they expect to stay afloat, other centers in the area haven’t been as fortunate.
“We have a lot of peers who are already closed as of recently and are already planning to downsize or possibly sell,” said Rackins.
“We’re continuing to have conversations with our state policy makers, our federal policy makers about how this money did have a positive impact on childcare,” said Jacobs.
In the meantime, Jacobs says they have other ongoing resources- including the Thriving Child Care Business Academy, which launched this month.
“Although this large amount does end, there are several different projects that are continuing to invest in childcare,” said Jacobs.
For more information on GA DECAL resources, visit https://www.decal.ga.gov/.