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Federal funding will soon end for hundreds of Georgia childcare centers

Pandemic-era federal funding through STABLE 4ward will come to an end on Sept. 30.

ATLANTA — In just a matter of weeks, pandemic-era federal funds that thousands of childcare centers, across the country and in Georgia, have come to rely on will come to an end.

Final payments through Georgia's STABLE 4ward will be sent out on Sept. 30. The state program, funded by supplemental Child Care Development Block Grant through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), is intended to help stabilize the cost of maintaining childcare programs by supporting the childcare workforce, reducing the financial burden of childcare for families and ensuring a safe and healthy environment.

Many in the childcare industry said the funding over the past several years has been the life support that providers needed. 

CEO of Georgia Child Care Association Ellen Reynolds said the funding drying up is concerning for providers and families.

“There are a lot of families that are stressed and a lot of families that are concerned about losing access to care and a lot of providers that are worried about having to shut their doors," said Reynolds.

With no other lifeline in sight, thousands of Georgia children are expected to lose access to child care. 

Sharon Foster, who owns the Bells Ferry Learning Centers, said while she's planned ahead, it's a scary time for so many.

“There is a lot of fear. This has been a life support for the center for years," added Foster.

With Congress putting spending caps in place, advocates are begging state leaders to help.

"Where we’re looking is for out our state to try to invest more through our governor and General Assembly," said Reynolds.

Reynolds said the trickle-down effect could be detrimental for Georgia's families.

“The worst case scenario is we see children with much less literacy skills, we see much fewer children graduating high school, and we see companies that can’t fill out their workforce needs because those parents don’t have access to childcare," said Reynolds.

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