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Why did three Georgia companies merit placement on Fortune magazine’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For?  Because they support child care for their employees, including summer camps in some cases.  AFLAC, Alston & Bird, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta joined number one ranked SAS, Inc. in North Carolina in offering on-site or accessible quality child care as part of the employment package.  Other child and family-friendly benefits were also detailed in the article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Jan. 21.

If Georgia wants to be seen as a great place to work, ensuring access to quality childcare for families in our workforce is a good place to start.  During the hard economic times of the last two years, Georgia had the benefit of $47 million in federal stimulus funds to eliminate the waiting list for child care subsidies and to help 600 child care centers improve the quality of their programs.  With the loss of those stimulus funds, 10,000 families will be without access to quality care for their kids. 

What will happen?  to the children? to the employees? to employers?  We are likely to see more latchkey kids, more employee absenteeism and lower productivity.  Solutions?  Public/private partnerships, tax credits for employers, child care tax credits for families, and expanding Georgia PreK .

Maybe we can’t do everything at once but let’s start planning for the future.  The greatest innovations and the most effective solutions are born out of hard times.  Let’s seize the opportunity!

Pat Willis, Executive Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children

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This Tuesday Voices and Family Connection were given the opportunity to present to the House Committee on Children and Youth. Looking at the fact that about one child out of five in Georgia lives at or below the poverty level, and that more than a third of Georgia’s kids live in a family where no parent has full-time, year-round employment, where do you start to explain the dilemma our kids face?

Both organizations are great resources for laying out the case. Both have access to thorough data, wherever it exists, and both understand the interrelation of kids’ issues to each other: e.g. Georgia can not be successful if we don’t have an educated workforce, schools can not educate kids if those kids are sick, hungry, or are under stress at home, society can not function well if families are not equipped with the tools and knowledge to care for their children, and so on and so forth.

The key is to help policy makers prioritize the help kids get is to make sure that evidence-based information is readily available and easy to understand. Beyond that, helping lawmakers understand the navigation of local, state and federal dollars and service opportunities so that they can allocate resources in the most effective manner is crucial. Both Voices and Family Connection are helpful and knowledgeable resources for such strategy. I hope lawmakers will take full advantage of the help we provide and choose to really make a difference in outcomes for kids.

Urgent Issues for Georgia’s Children in 2011 PowerPoint

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