April 4, 2010; The Telegraph | It has been a difficult week for those charged with overseeing the early childcare system in Georgia. First, a report on the findings of a survey by Quality Care for Children was released on April 2nd and indicates that the state lost 600 child care centers between 2008 and 2009 and the number of nationally accredited centers declined to 221 from 304, a 27 percent decrease.

The posited reasons are seeringly familiar to the Nonprofit Newswire: “More parents are unable to afford high-quality care and are opting for cheaper care for their children.” Although less expensive care does not always mean lower quality, that is often the case. As revenues decline, many centers are forced to cut back on teacher and staff training as well as needed repairs and supplies, such as books.

Enrollment is dropping, putting programs at risk. Nearly one out of five childcare centers, and more than one-fourth of family care providers are “worried about having to close.” Then this morning the Macon Telegraph reported on the findings of a study that stated that two thirds of a day care centers in the state “offer low quality care for infants and toddlers”.

The report was released by the state Department of Early Care and Learning on March 26th though it had been completed three months earlier. The report cited problems with health and safety and educational materials though it reported widespread compliance on other issues like student to teacher ratios.

Still the results are alarming: “Low-performing classrooms were characterized by multiple safety hazards, few age-appropriate toys, teachers with inappropriate expectations for child behavior and neglect of recommended health practices such as hand washing.” The commissioner of the department said “the state commissioned the $526,000 study to provide a baseline of child care quality and to target investments for improvement.”—Ruth McCambridge