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Leaders tout decades of universal pre-K in Georgia

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 6:46 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 29, 2021 at 9:07 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - One big piece of the American Families Plan President Joe Biden introduced Wednesday night has to do with child care and universal pre-school for children ages 3 and 4.

About $200 dollars from the $1.8 trillion plan aims to ensure publicly funded pre schools are high-quality, prioritize areas in need, and more.

The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning says the state’s program is one of the best in the country and says investing in universal pre-K has been beneficial for the state.

Biden is calling for partnerships with states to provide universal pre-K for 5 million children.

The White House says it would save families thousands of dollars.

“Two years of universally high quality pre-school for every three year old and four year old no matter what background they come from, puts them in the position to be able to compete all the way through twelve years,” Biden said.

Here in the Peach State, the Department of Early Care and Learning says the state has been a leader throughout the country when it comes to universal Pre-K and shows those who go through it, are better prepared for kindergarten.

“We in Georgia have served close to 2 billion children in a universal program, since our program started in 1992. So 30 years in, we know a good bit about high quality pre-school services,” said Deputy Commissioner Susan Adams with Georgia DECAL Pre-K and Instructional Support.

Georgia Pre-K and Instructional Support Deputy Commissioner Susan Adams says universal Pre-K has been a good investment for Georgia and its families.

She also says the pandemic has shown how essential childcare is, but it has also revealed flaws in the system from accessibility to cost.

“Everyone is realizing that young families need this support and a crucial benefit is that they need to be able to access, afford and have opportunities to enroll their children in high quality childcare, pre-school programs so they not only have a safe, nurturing environment for their child, but so that then, they can also go to work and do the things that they need to do,” said Adams.

Another part of the plan would pay Pre-K and Head Start employees at least $15 an hour.

Deputy Commissioner Adams says this higher pay would not only help employees who may not get the same benefits as K-12 teachers but also allow them to expand their skill set.

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