Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Georgia Child Care Association?

GCCA is a nonprofit trade association representing the owners of more than 900 private, public and corporate child care centers across the state. All the centers that comprise our organization are licensed by the state of Georgia and therefore are required to comply with regulations set by the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).

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What is GCCA’s mission?

Our mission is threefold. First, we advocate on behalf of child care providers for sound public policy and against regulation that places undue burden on small business. We protect Georgia's children AND the businesses that serve them.  Second, we educate owners, administrators and teachers about state licensing requirements and while also providing unique learning opportunities to assist our members in successfully managing their businesses. Third, we communicate our members concerns to policymakers and address questions from the press and the public about the industry. We are the voice for Georgia’s licensed child care industry.

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How do you define sound policy?

Simply, sound policy is that which fosters quality, affordable and accessible child care for working parents.

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How many early learning centers in Georgia are licensed?

DECAL reports more than 2800 early learning centers are licensed in Georgia.

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How many exempt child care centers are in Georgia?

There are currently 5388 exemptions granted by DECAL operating out of a variety of facilities.  One location can have multiple exemptions.  For example they may have requested an exemption for a mother's morning out and a summer camp.  These programs operate with no oversight from DECAL and are not required to follow any regulations including any health and safety requirements.  Exempt care facilities include summer camps, after-school programs, church-based day care and mother’s morning out programs.

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What does the term quality mean?

The broad community of early learning specialists has come to a common understanding of what quality means. Generally, child care settings that produce strong, positive effects on children’s learning and social development are considered to be quality environments. Typically, these child care centers guarantee their classrooms are led by well trained teachers and they foster warm, responsive interactions between staff and children. In addition, teachers are equipped with stimulating curriculum which includes age appropriate material and increasingly incorporates interactive learning. Finally, a quality setting is a safe one where precautions are taken to assure the physical well being of children while they learn and play.

Studies show that children at very young ages who enjoy quality early learning environments, as compared with those who do not, show increased cognitive development at 24 months and demonstrate better language development at 36 months.

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Which issues are priorities for GCCA today?

We are focused on raising the overall quality of licensed child care through incentive-based programs such as Georgia’s Quality Rated system. We support the implementation of this program because it will provide transparency for owners and parents, allowing each to better understand how centers are performing in terms of quality and service.

We are working closely with DECAL to encourage them to  tighten standards for exempt child care facilities, or those that are not licensed by the state. GCCA believes that ultimately, all facilities that care for young children should be licensed.

We have been advocating for a revision to the pre-k funding formula to bring additional funds to both teacher salaries, benefits and operational funds.  This essential program has been underfunded for many years and providers have had to subsidize the program costs through other center revenues.  GCCA has as well as subsidies for low income children. Let's take a look at the federal Childcare and Parent Services Program, or CAPS, which helps low income families afford child care so that parents can work. Federal guidelines stipulate that state providers of child care should be reimbursed at the 75th percentile of the current market rate. However, Georgia currently reimburses providers at the 25th percentile of the current market rate and providers are expected to make up the difference from non-subsidized, paying customers.

Inadequate programmatic funding has forced hundreds of licensed providers to close their doors and steep cuts in teacher salaries have prompted many educators to leave early learning classrooms.

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How does the lack of oversight for exempt care programs place children in harms way?

It is our contention that there are a multitude of hazards associated with exempt care, namely a lack of physical safety standards and prerequisite criminal background checks. We can cite news reports detailing at least a dozen instances where children were emotionally or physically harmed by caregivers while in a broad range of exempt care settings.

While we recognize that many exempt facilities are run by well-intentioned owners, we also understand that without oversight or regulatory compliance many of these caregivers are unknowingly putting children at risk. For instance, caregivers may not be required to undergo coursework as basic as first aid training or as vital as transportation safety classes.

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What is the number one issue facing licensed child care operators today?

Hands down, it’s the economy. The child care industry has been hit hard by the recession and the nation’s slow recovery. Skyrocketing unemployment affected child enrollment and forced many child care centers, mostly small businesses, to close their doors. In fact, Quality Care for Children reports that more than 1000 Georgia providers have ceased operation since 2009. Those who have weathered the storm did so with decreased tuition revenue and reduced federal and state subsidies allotted for low income families. Those centers should be commended for their business acumen and creative problem solving.

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How has GCCA helped members weather the recent economic downturn?

Our greatest challenge as an advocacy organization is educating policymakers on the importance of investing in early learning and education. The return on this investment is exponential. According to economists, for every dollar invested in early learning there is 10% rate of return, far outweighing the investment in any infrastructure project. Additionally, study after study has proven that public investment in early education improves school readiness, increases graduation rates, and enhances earnings potential. On the flip side, this investment results in lower costs for remedial education, lower criminal justice and prison costs and fewer welfare payments.

GCCA is steadfast in its efforts to restore public investment in Pre-K and to increase federal and state subsidies for low income families so that they are on par with market rates. We seek to control costs on business, advocating for less burdensome and more efficient regulation. Public sector commitment in these areas will go a long way toward shoring up Georgia’s early learning centers and increasing opportunities for families seeking access to affordable, quality care.

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5490 McGinnis Village Place, Suite 215
Alpharetta, Georgia 30005
Phone: (770) 752-4117
Fax: (770) 752-4207