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Pre-K Day at the Capitol draws a crowd! Left to right: Robin Ferst, president and founder of the Ferst Foundation; Bobby Cagle, DECAL commissioner; Pat Willis, Voices executive director; and teachers, parents and children from local Pre-K centers. A big thank you to all of our supporters. More pictures available on Flickr (feed below on blog) !

Governor Nathan Deal’s new appointments to state agencies that focus on children bring some  young but proven leaders to kids’ issues.  We are excited by the prospects of these very able and dedicated public servants joining current agency directors in working together and setting goals for children.  

All have histories of cooperation and collaboration with child advocates and community service providers.  We welcome them and offer our support to improve child well being and raise our national rankings from the 40s to respectable levels.  Thank you, Governor Deal, and welcome to: 

  •  Amy Howell, former deputy in DJJ who got her start at the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory Law School, will be the new commissioner of DJJ. 
  • Rachelle Carnesale, former deputy of the Office of the Child Advocate, will lead the Department of Family and Chidren’s Services.
  • Bobby Cagle, former DFCS legislative director, will lead the department of Early Care and Learning.

Pat Willis, Executive Director

Voices for Georgia’s Children

I’ve been hearing that legislators are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to balance the state budget by cutting programs and raising fees while seeking to avoid increasing taxes.  That attempt to squeeze every available dollar from any possible source became clear at a hearing held last Friday by the Senate Appropriations Education Subcommittee chaired by Senator Dan Moody.

After the Department of Early Care and Learning Commissioner Holly Robinson presented the her agency’s proposed FY 10 Amended and FY 11 budgets, she was asked whether she could administer a licensing fee for child care providers if legislation instituting such a fee was passed and enacted in 2011. 

I was relieved to hear Dr. Robinson explain to the committee that “this is not an optimal time” to raise fees. Dr. Robinson stated that many providers are struggling to keep their doors open in this economy either because parents who have lost jobs have had to withdraw their children from care or because some parents are no longer able to pay their providers.  She also stated that collecting licensing fees from approximately 7000 providers would be a big job that would take substantial resources from her agency and yield relatively few dollars.

The last 8 months have presented some changes and opportunities for the child care industry in Georgia.  Dr. Robinson has spearheaded a series of quality initiatives that call for, among other things, additional training for child care providers.  Voices for Georgia’s Children supports this new training requirement, but we are aware that obtaining new credentials is an investment of time and resources for child care providers.

 Encouraging child care providers to be licensed by the state is important and the passage of a new fee for obtaining a license would be counterproductive to the efforts we’ve made to increase the availability of affordable, high quality child care for Georgia’s children.

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