Georgia Launches Infant/Toddler Initiative in Response to Concerns about State Quality Study Findings

May 25, 2010

By Rachel Schumacher

State policymakers need good data to make the case for investing in infant/toddler and quality initiatives. In Georgia, the results of a study of the quality of child care in centers and Georgia's Pre-k program has provided the fuel to support a new focus on technical assistance and on-site support for infant/toddler providers and licensed facilities with compliance issues.

Georgia state leaders invested in a rigorous study of quality, contracting with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute to select a statewide representative sample and appropriate means to rate classroom quality.  The Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale-Revised (ITERS-R) was used to measure the global quality in infant/ toddler classrooms. The instrument uses a 1-7 scale, with higher scores indicating higher quality. The report on centers found that two-thirds of the infant toddler classrooms would be considered low quality, with an average score of 2.74.  Only five percent of infant toddler classrooms were found to offer high quality. One-third of center-based preschool services were rated as low quality on the corresponding pre-school Early Childhood Rating Scale (ECERS-R), with only five percent in the top quality range. The report on Georgia's Pre-k program  showed better results; just two percent of Pre-k classrooms in centers and 11 percent of those in schools were found to be low quality.  Fifteen percent of Pre-k delivered in centers rated high quality.

The study results have been used to inform policy priorities, including use of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) dollars to fund six new infant/toddler specialists, one for each region of the state.  After completing The Program for Infant/Toddler Care training, these specialists will work intensely with selected child care learning centers and family child care providers and increase access to community-based infant/toddler care training around the state. In addition, ARRA dollars are being used to fund a new initiative that will provide on-site technical assistance and direct training to more than 600 programs in Georgia that have demonstrated the greatest need meeting licensing compliance on health and safety. This last effort will be targeted to programs serving low-income children receiving child care assistance.

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