Georgia parents returning to school now eligible for child care subsidy

Amy M. Jacobs, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which licenses child care centers and home-based child care, visits Suttles Child Development Center at Georgia State University. (Courtesy photo)

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Amy M. Jacobs, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, which licenses child care centers and home-based child care, visits Suttles Child Development Center at Georgia State University. (Courtesy photo)

State will treat low-income student parents as priority for financial assistance

In a guest column, Amy M. Jacobs, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, describes a new initiative that will pay child care costs so low-income parents can return to school.

The funding will be welcome news for student parents in Georgia looking for assistance with child care so they can return to school for critical job skills training. Along with providing a subsidy, the program will also help families find high-quality early learning programs; maintain stability in their child care arrangements; and connect with resources to help them become self-sufficient by supporting the whole family.

By Amy M. Jacobs

A quick internet search yields scores of articles on how education relates to poverty … no surprise that most of them support the idea that education has been and still is a way out of poverty. If that idea, which seems basic and intuitive, is true, what prevents people from enhancing their education?

According to research, a chief obstacle to parents working to further their education is the cost of child care. One in five college students in the United States is a parent, so we are excited to add student parents as a priority group for Georgia’s most vulnerable families to receive child care assistance.

Combined ShapeCaption
Amy M. Jacobs is commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

Credit: Courtesy Photo'

Amy M. Jacobs is commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

Credit: Courtesy Photo'

Combined ShapeCaption
Amy M. Jacobs is commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.

Credit: Courtesy Photo'

Credit: Courtesy Photo'

Throughout Georgia, there are low-income moms and dads seeking to complete their GED or earn a credential or traditional college or technical college degree. They want to become self-sufficient members of Georgia’s workforce. But the cost of child care — in addition to life’s other costs, rent/mortgage, utilities, food, health care — can prove too much, and they are forced to give up the very activity that could help them become more economically self-sustaining.

That’s why the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) created a Student Parents priority group, drawing on the Childcare and Parent Services program or CAPS, a federal- and state-funded initiative that provides child care scholarships for eligible families.

To be eligible for CAPS, a family must meet income limits based on the size of the family; must be involved in a state-approved activity such as education or training; and must be a member of a CAPS priority group.

Now, student parents in Georgia fall into a CAPS priority group. So, families who have not previously been eligible to receive help paying for child care may now qualify for CAPS. The program covers the full cost of the child care, which varies, depending on such factors as the child’s age and where the family lives in Georgia. The average cost per child is $165 per week.

DECAL became aware of the need to support student parents through our partnership with the Technical College System of Georgia. DECAL and the Technical College System are proponents of Georgia’s two-generation approach to serving families — not just meeting the needs of children but also working with parents to resolve issues so that the whole family thrives.

Both agencies understood that parents sometimes dropped out of their educational programs because of the challenge of affording child care. Creating this special priority group for student parents can help solve the problem.

“Across the 22 colleges of TCSG, affordable child care is a challenge for many of our student parents who are striving to improve their lives through education,” said Technical College System Commissioner Greg Dozier. “By adding student parents as a priority group for financial support through the CAPS program, these students can focus on their education without the stress of finding affordable, high-quality child care.”

Supporting student parents is a win on several levels: It ensures that the children of student parents are cared for in quality early care and learning environments. It enables student parents to continue their education or training knowing that their children are in safe and healthy environments.

It also bolsters Georgia’s economy by helping build a skilled workforce that can meet the demands of a 21st-century marketplace. It hopefully will increase economic mobility for families and thereby change the future of our communities and our state.

If you are a student parent enrolled in an adult education program, a vocational training program, traditional college or university, or technical college, who thinks you may be eligible for the CAPS program, contact 1-833-4GA-CAPS (1-833-442-2277) or visit www.caps.decal.ga.gov to learn more, or apply for CAPS by visiting www.gateway.ga.gov.