ATLANTA, GEORGIA –The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI) is pleased to announce the release of a comprehensive budget overview for the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), authored by Director of Economic Justice, Ife Finch Floyd. This overview provides a detailed analysis of the proposed budget allocations for critical early childhood education (ECE) programs in Georgia.
DECAL oversees crucial programs, including Child Care Services, the Georgia Pre-kindergarten Program, Nutrition Services, the Summer Meals program, and Quality Initiatives. State funding supports these services, ensuring access to early education for Georgia’s children.
In the proposed budgets for Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025, Governor Kemp has outlined funding allocations of $523 million for DECAL in FY 2024 and $557 million in FY 2025.
Statement by Ife Finch Floyd, Director of Economic Justice at GBPI:
“A robust early childhood education system is the bedrock of a prosperous future for our children and our state. While the proposed budget addresses some critical areas, it is imperative that we continue to advocate for equitable investments across all ECE programs.”
A significant focus of the proposed budget is the enhancement of the Georgia Pre-K program. With an additional $46 million allocated for FY 2025, the proposed increases include:
- $23.6 million for a $2,500 increase in base salaries for Pre-K lead and assistant teachers.
- $11 million for the first year of a four-year plan to reduce class sizes from 22 to 20.
- $6.1 million for the Summer Transition Program, supporting rising Pre-K and kindergarten students.
- $243 thousand for a 4% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for state employees.
The proposed investments address crucial areas like teacher compensation and class sizes, aiming to attract and retain qualified educators for the benefit of children’s learning experiences.
In addition to reinforcing the Pre-K program, the proposed budget allocates approximately $67.2 million for the Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program, up from $62.5 million in FY 2024. Notably, there is a $4.6 million increase to raise CAPS reimbursement rates to the 50th percentile of market rates for child care providers, aligning with federal standards.
Despite these proposed investments, challenges persist. The disparity in funding between Pre-K and child care underscores the need for equitable investment across all ECE programs. The child care system continues to face financial strain, impacting providers and families.
GBPI’s analysis emphasizes the importance of addressing these challenges and advocating for increased funding to support quality child care. Prioritizing investments in CAPS and expanding subsidized slots for children can ensure equitable access to affordable and high-quality early education for all Georgia families.
Director Ife Finch Floyd underscores the critical role of state investments in shaping the future of early childhood education in Georgia. As the state navigates budgetary decisions, GBPI urges policymakers to prioritize the needs of children and families, recognizing that quality child care is essential for children’s development and parental workforce participation.
For more information on GBPI’s budget overview for DECAL, please visit GBPI’s website.