As a full time working mother of three, I know first-hand the importance of reliable, quality child care.  I also know just how expensive good child care can be.  Every working mom struggles with balancing the benefits of working with the costs of child care not to mention the stress of missing time with her children. 

 An article in today’s New York Times highlights the importance of child care assistance to low-income mothers. The article describes how in some states a frozen child care safety net makes it difficult on low-income mothers to gain a stable financial footing for themselves and their families. 

 How are working mothers and their children in Georgia faring?

 Thankfully, for low-income families the news in Georgia is largely positive.  Spurred by alarm regarding large waiting lists for child care assistance in FY 2008 and 2009, the Georgia Birth to Five Coalition, which was established through Voices for Georgia’s Children’s leadership, has worked to encourage state legislators and DFCS to leverage federal funds and eliminate waiting lists so that every child in need of care can be served in a quality learning environment.

 Upon the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Georgia placed a priority on child care subsidies and, through utilization of federal stimulus dollars, has managed to substantially reduce the waiting list and serve more children monthly. 

 Yet, our work is far from over.  Federal stimulus funds have replaced about $11.5 million of TANF funds in the FY 2011 state budget.  Thus, when the stimulus funds are exhausted, we must advocate for the restoration of TANF funds or inclusion of new state funds in the FY 2012 DHS Child Care Services budget. 

 We’ll need your help throughout the fall as we remind legislators about the importance of this vital support for working mothers.