Who is Nancy Travis?

For over 30 years, Quality Care for Children has worked to ensure that Georgia’s infants and young children are nurtured and educated and, ultimately, find excitement and joy during a lifetime of growing and learning. Nancy Travis founded the agency as an office of Save the Children and served as the Executive Director from 1977 to 1994. In October 1998, Quality Care for Children became an independent non-profit community-based organization governed by its own local Board of Trustees. Quality Care for Children is the resource for parents, child care providers and community leaders in Georgia seeking information, assistance and support in securing high quality early learning experiences for infants and young children.

What is the mission of the Nancy Travis Childcare Project (NTCP)?

NTCP’s mission is to increase access to quality childcare for Clarke County children who are underserved.

Do the funds go to the parents to pay for child care?

No, the funds are not granted directly to the parents.

The funding stream is: donor/foundation > NTCP > partner agency > quality childcare program.

The partner agencies are: Athens Area Homeless Shelter, Interfaith Hospitality Network Athens, Prevent Child Abuse Athens’ Healthy Families program, Children First and Salvation Army.

NTCP grants funds to these partner agencies to pay for childcare for their clients’ children below the age of four through one of two funding streams: Care for Kids and Hope for Babies.

What is the difference between the Hope for Babies program and the Care for Kids program?

Care for Kids provides short-term child care scholarships for families who are unemployed due to homelessness or other circumstances to purchase quality-certified child care for their children while they prepare for and seek employment. Once employed or in an approved training program, the parent usually qualifies for a federal child care subsidy through the CAPS program.

Hope for Babies provides longer-term scholarships to young children of low-income working families to attend quality-rated child care that provides a solid foundation for school and life success. The scholarship bridges the gap between what the CAPS subsidy plus parent co-pay covers and the cost of quality-certified child care.

What is the CAPS subsidy?

The Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program is designed to help low-income families afford safe child care using both state and federal funds. To be eligible, the parent must be employed for at least 30 hours a week or enrolled in an approved training program. A parent co-pay based on family size and income is required. The subsidy amount decreases as the co-pay amount increases. For more information, visit the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) website.

What does it mean for a child care program to be “quality-rated”?

A childcare center or family childcare home is considered quality rated by NTCP if it has become Quality Rated by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) or is making satisfactory progress toward becoming Quality Rated.

What is the Quality Rated program?

According to the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), Quality Rated is a “Systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early care and education (ECE) programs.” DECAL goes on to explain: “Similar to rating systems for other service-related industries, quality ratings will be awarded to programs that meet defined program standards that go beyond Georgia’s minimum licensing requirements.” The program has three levels of quality beyond being simply licensed.

Georgia’s system supports childcare programs in becoming Quality Rated through financial incentives and bonuses and through free state-approved training by their local childcare resource and referral agency. For Athens-Clarke County, that agency is Quality Care for Children East.

What is Quality Care for Children (QCC) East?

QCC East is the agency that serves 17 counties in northeast Georgia. It is a branch of Quality Care for Children (QCC) headquartered in Atlanta. QCC provides services to both parents (for example, referrals to child care) and childcare providers including training and on-site consultation to improve the quality of child care to become Quality Rated.

How does Georgia’s Quality Rated program affect the Nancy Travis Childcare Project?

Georgia’s Quality Rated program gives NTCP a way of identifying childcare centers and family childcare homes that provide high quality programs or are making satisfactory progress toward becoming Quality Rated.

Meeting the childcare needs of NTCP’s partner agencies requires a sufficient number of available slots in quality-certified programs. Therefore, in addition to granting funds for children to attend childcare, NTCP encourages childcare programs to become Quality Rated. In the Fall of 2915, NTCP notified Clarke County childcare programs that NTCP funds would only be available for childcare in licensed programs that were Quality Rated or making sufficient progress to becoming Quality Rated.

Why is quality child care so expensive?

The need for a low adult-child ratio and well trained teachers contributes heavily to the cost of quality care. In order for children to receive the attention they need, the adult-child ratio must be low. Georgia allows six infants per caregiver, but a quality program will have no more than eight infants in a room with two caregivers. And research has demonstrated that these caregivers need to be well trained if the infants, toddlers and preschoolers in their care are to thrive developmentally. Quality programs also serve nutritious meals, have age-appropriate furnishings, plenty of developmentally appropriate toys and materials, a well-developed outdoor play and learning space, and sufficient indoor space for a variety of activities. Often quality programs have “floaters” who are well-trained teachers who can float from classroom to classroom to help where needed. The program also needs funds for both the state-mandated annual in-service training of its staff, and the additional training needed to maintain a quality program.

What are some of the additional distinguishing characteristics of a quality child care program?

In a quality program, caregivers are sensitive and responsive to the individual needs of the children. They are warm and nurturing in their interactions and knowledgeable about child development in general and the temperament and developmental needs of the individual children in their care.  Children are given ample opportunities to explore, experiment and create in a safe environment. Caregivers dip in and out of their play to scaffold problem solving and elaboration of their play, to redirect their behavior when necessary, and to supply a rich language/literacy environment. The caregivers also develop warm, respectful relationships with the parents.

Why is quality care so important?

There are many reasons why infants, toddlers and preschoolers need to be cared for in ways that meet their developmental needs.

    • Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and well-being as adults. The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego, is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood experiences and later-life health and well-being.
      • The study found that childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are common. Almost two-thirds of the study’s participants reported at least one ACE, and more than one of five reported three or more ACE.
      • Results demonstrated that as the number of ACE increase, the risk for a number of major health problems (alcoholism, depression, ischemic heart disease, liver disease, suicide attempts etc.) increases “in a strong and graded fashion”.
      • Even though child care conditions and parenting challenges aren’t often at the level of maltreatment, they can still have adverse effects on the child’s developing brain.
      • Early brain development.  During the first three years, the child’s brain is rapidly developing and is also highly vulnerable to the effects of stress.  Here’s what the research, as summarized by Dr. Jack Shonkoff, tells us:
        • The neural circuits that process basic information are wired earlier than those that process more complex information so the development of higher-level abilities is more difficult if lower-level circuits are not wired properly.
        • Brain circuits stabilize with age making them increasingly more difficult to alter.  It is more efficient, both biologically and economically, to get things right the first time than to try to fix them later.
        • Recurrent and excessive stress in the absence of sufficiently protective relationships results in persistent activation of the body’s stress-management systems.  The increased hormone levels undermine the immune response and disrupt brain architecture by impairing cell growth and interfering with the formation of healthy neural circuits.
        • Nurturing and responsive interactions build healthy brain architecture that provides a strong foundation for later learning, behavior, and health.  (For more information, visit www.developingchild.harvard.edu)
    • Long-term results of quality child care. Two major research studies, the Abecedarian Project and Perry Preschool Study, compared the long-term results for children living in poverty who attended quality early care and learning programs with those for their peers from similar backgrounds who did not.
      • Findings demonstrated that children who received the quality child care are less likely to repeat grades and need special education services and over a lifetime, are more likely to grow into adults who have higher wages, less dependence upon welfare, and lower crime rates.
    • Return on investment.  Economic studies by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and others report that annual returns on public investments in early childhood are as high as 16% due to increased graduation rates, higher wages, and lower crime and substance abuse.

How many infants, toddlers and other preschoolers in Clarke County need financial assistance to be in quality child care?

According to the 2010 census, there are 6,924 children below the age of five in Clarke County and 38.1 percent of them (2,640) live in poverty. An estimated two-thirds of children in this age group (4,616) have all available parents in the work force and therefore need non-parental care while at work. Some of these children are served by center-based Early Head Start, Head Start, and lottery-funded Pre-K at least during the school day in the school year. This leaves an estimated 1,000 infants, toddlers and other preschoolers who live in poverty and may be in need of financial assistance for quality child care.