Early Education Advocates Cheer Mayor Dickens’ Announcement of $5 Million Investment
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced the City of Atlanta will invest $5 million toward early education services in his State of the City address this morning.
As part of his announcement, he also urged the school system to match this commitment and challenged the private sector to raise $10 million to match the public sector’s contribution.
“We are thankful for the Mayor’s leadership on an issue that is so crucial to many families’ economic security and to the long-term success of Atlanta’s children,” said Stephanie Blank, board chair of the GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, which leads the PAACT: Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive collaborative. “Child care and preschool programs are integral to Atlanta’s economy, and this public-private investment sets an example for communities across America.”
PAACT is a city-wide alliance of public and private partners collaborating to improve learning, health, and well-being outcomes for Atlanta’s youngest children and their families. The group was convened by GEEARS and continues to be led by the organization.
In 2018, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, GEEARS and the Metro Atlanta Chamber found child care challenges led to at least $1.75 billion in losses in economic activity annually and an additional $105 million in lost tax revenue for Georgia. By July 2021, surveys showed that 34 percent of Georgia parents with young children said they or someone in their family had to quit a job, not take a job, or greatly change a job in the past 12 months due to problems with child care, up from 26 percent in 2018.
“This funding will provide the capital necessary for Atlanta’s child care providers to improve the quality of their facilities and their programming to help increase access across Atlanta’s neighborhoods,” said Brittany Collins, Director of PAACT. “In addition, it will deliver child care assistance to the workforce, which has been a big challenge in the wake of the pandemic.”
The investment will build on the work of GEEARS’ leadership through PAACT and its implementation partners. In the past two years, the group has leveraged more than $3 million to provide stabilization grants, capital grants, quality improvement initiatives, and scholarships in Atlanta.
“Our city benefits from an active philanthropic community, with a strong record of supporting early education programs. We are eager to leverage this new public investment to expand our circle of supporters and their donations to address local challenges and make a broader impact on our kids,” said Mindy Binderman, Executive Director of GEEARS said.
Child care and early learning remain one of the biggest expenses working families face. Families across Georgia struggle to afford child care, with the average yearly infant tuition costing more than in-state tuition at a four-year public college. Significant investments to increase access to early childhood education will lower costs for families and, according to economists, will actually help take the edge off of inflation by improving parents’ labor force participation and productivity, which is pro-growth and anti-inflationary.
PAACT: Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive is a citywide alliance of public and private partnerships working to improve outcomes for children in the City of Atlanta. PAACT is tackling one of the most urgent problems facing parents in Atlanta – early childhood education. Due to the many inequities parents and children living in Atlanta face in early learning, many parents do not have access to early childhood education. PAACT is focused on addressing these issues so that Atlanta is the best city in the country to raise a family.
For a full list of PAACT partners and advisory board members, visit the website at www.paactatl.org.
GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students was established in 2010 to help business, civic, and government leaders maximize the economic return on the state’s investments in early care and learning. GEEARS supports high-quality early learning and healthy development for Georgia’s youngest children, from birth to five, by championing policies, promoting innovative and evidence-based practices, and building public will.