James.qxp Nov Dec 2018 web - Page 35



ow more than ever, the American public has
embraced the importance of high-quality
early learning. Over the past decade, there
has been a growing understanding of brain development
in infants and toddlers, and an increased focus and evaluation of the positive social and educational outcomes of
early learning programs.
However, beyond the short and long-term outcomes
directly related to young children participating in these
programs, high quality early learning and child care contributes directly to the economic health of Georgia. The
early care and education industry in Georgia generates
$4.7 billion annually in economic activity and provides
more than 67,000 jobs statewide.
Further, working parents who are supported by child
care across Georgia generate another $24 billion in annual
earnings. In other words, when parents have quality early
care and learning options they will work, earn, and spend,
all of which generates another $374 million in federal tax
revenue and $162 million in state and local revenue.
But what happens to these earnings if parents do not
have access to stable child care options? A recently
released report, Opportunities Lost: How Child Care
Challenges Affect Georgia’s Workforce & Economy,
asked that question. To answer it, Georgia Early
Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS) and
the Metro Atlanta Chamber surveyed 400 parents with
children under the age of five and asked them how child
care has impacted their ability to find and maintain
steady employment. The poll found that over the past
year, 26 percent of respondents reported that they or
someone in their family had to quit a job, not accept a
job, or greatly change their job because of problems with
child care. Specifically, long- and short-term disruptions
to employment and participation in school and work
training programs due to child care instability include:
18%
of parents have turned down a promotion at
work, and 24 percent have turned down an
opportunity to enroll in school or work
training programs
20%
percent of parents have had to quit their job,
school or work training program
57%
percent have missed at least a full day of
work in the last 6 months, with 20 percent
of respondents missing more than 5 days.
continued on page 36
N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 8
35

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