ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens wants to spend $20 million to improve and subsidize child care and preschool in the city.
The money would include $5 million from the city, $5 million the city’s public school system and $10 million from private donors, Dickens told WABE-FM.
On Friday, the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students announced a $4.5 million pledge from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation and United Way of Greater Atlanta to help pay for the plan.
The city will use federal pandemic relief money to pay for its $5 million.
The money will pay to refurbish childcare centers, to help families afford childcare and to pay teachers bonuses.
Dickens said many childcare facilities haven’t been able to afford necessary repairs.
“To get them up to par, we’re asking those childcare centers, particularly on the southside of town a lot of disinvested places, come to us and we’ll give you grants to improve and modernize,” he said.
The average monthly cost of childcare in Georgia is about $1,000 per child. Courtney English, the mayor’s senior policy advisor, said that’s unaffordable for many families.
“There are about 13,000 families in and around the city of Atlanta that are either cost-burdened — they’re paying well over 40% of their income towards childcare services, that’s way, way too high — or they don’t have access to any kind of program simply because they can’t get there, they can’t afford it,” English said.
Curbing costs for families is a priority, English said, because access to quality childcare is essential for children’s development.
In 2017, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce released a report showing a lack of access to childcare cost Atlanta businesses $1.75 billion annually and $105 million in lost tax revenue.