By GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students
When the Promise All Atlanta Children Thrive (PAACT) citywide alliance launched last year, we obviously had no idea what challenges would be in store for all of us 2020. GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Georgia originally convened a group of community leaders from the public and private sector to examine the data, develop a strategic vision, and to take actions that ensure that all children in the City of Atlanta have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Working together, the group developed a comprehensive report of recommendations for supporting high-quality early childhood education and healthy development for the city’s youngest children. Even then, we knew fulfilling the PAACT vision would be challenging, with success measured not in days or months, but in years.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has presented new difficulties for Atlanta’s youngest children and their families, as well as the early education sector. In a recent survey, GEEARS and Quality Care for Children found 63% of Child Care Learning Centers (CCLCs) and 62% of Family Child Care Learning Homes (FCCLHs) report that they were less than a month away from closing for good. Without assistance, these learning centers may be in danger of closing their doors permanently, leaving more Atlanta families without access to high-quality child care.
We knew we had to act fast. With this in mind, PAACT expanded the PAACT Fund for Quality and partnered with Quality Care for Children to launch the stabilization grant program.The Fund will provide grant funding of up to $20,000 to support child care providers in the City of Atlanta, with priority given to eligible programs located within the Washington and Douglass APS Clusters, to help them sustain their businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our goal is to support the early learning sector during this difficult time by helping these small businesses sustain basic expenses through the crisis and prepare to reopen in the future. GEEARS consulted with Reinvestment Fund to develop the program based on their child care COVID-19 response efforts in Philadelphia.
Quality Care for Children will administer the Fund and will review applications and grant awards on a weekly basis. Grant funding is available for licensed child care centers and family child care homes in the City of Atlanta, whether currently open or temporarily closed. Programs caring for children ages birth to five years of age are eligible to apply. (Learn more details about the Fund, including eligibility here.)
The PAACT Fund for Quality is funded through grants from the United Way of Greater Atlanta (UWGA), the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. The stabilization grant program is administered by Quality Care for Children. (If you are an philanthropic institution interested in giving to the PAACT Fund for Quality Stabilization Grant Fund, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
This effort is just the start of the PAACT collaboration. Together, with local leaders across the public and private sectors, we’ll continue to work to improve equity and access to high-quality early childhood education for all of Atlanta’s children, today and well after this crisis has passed.