Today's first graders spent their early childhood years in one of the worst economic periods in US history. In 2013, the child poverty rate rose to 27.2%. Research indicates that living in poverty will not only have a long-term impact on these children, but also on the schools, and the community at large for years to come. The benefits of quality early education for children in poverty are well established. High quality child care prepares children for success in school and beyond. A safe and stimulating environment, the day-to-day presence of teachers who comfort and attend to their needs, nutritious snacks and meals, all help to mitigate the effects of the toxic stress that so many children in poverty experience.
Fortunately, five years after the economic downturn there is very good news on the horizon for young children in Georgia. Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning recently launched a quality rating and improvement system (Quality Rated) which helps child care programs meet the needs of young children and helps parents identify quality programs in their community. Additionally, Georgia was awarded a Federal Early Learning Challenge grant which will provide $51 million over four years to further strengthen the State's early care and education system. While we are making significant improvement to quality in Georgia, we cannot take our eyes off of what matters most - making sure that the children living in poverty have access to high quality programs.
In September Quality Care for Children began a strategic planning process to guide us through the next 3 years. While some might find strategic planning a tedious process, I find the challenge of continually re-defining the organization to serve more children invigorating. QCC stands ready to address the needs of Georgia's youngest citizens and will capitalize on its 2014 accomplishments which include:
• Helping more than 300 programs improve quality receive accreditations
• Providing 30 Child Development Associate credential scholarships
• Supplying 26,740 hours of professional training
• Ensuring 13,573 children in 880 child care programs received nutritious meals
• Distributing over $300,000 to improve child care learning environments
• Providing 26,516 referrals to parents in Georgia seeking child care
• Providing safe, stable emergency child care for 120 children of families in crisis
We believe the best is yet to come for Georgia’s children. Please join us on the journey.
With warmest regards,
President & CEO
President & CEO