|ATLANTA—The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) has some good news for families who receive CAPS scholarship assistance in paying for childcare. Through the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), DECAL has received funds to help eligible Georgia families negatively impacted by the pandemic pay for childcare.
DECAL will use this investment in early learning to support families through a special initiative called ACCESS – Awarding Child Care Education Scholarship Supplements. ACCESS is intended to temporarily alleviate the financial burden of childcare for families in the CAPS program.
“As part of this funding, CAPS family fees…the portion of childcare paid for by families…will be waived under the ACCESS initiative beginning May 17, 2021 through service period ending October 2, 2022,” said DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs. “Families will not pay their provider any tuition related fees or co-payments for child care services. CAPS will pay child care providers their full published rate for the type of care provided, including the family fee.”
Deputy Commissioner for CAPS Elisabetta Kasfir added, “Child Care providers may charge families for costs outside of tuition, such as transportation fees or meal fees. Eliminating the family fee will significantly enhance families’ access to quality child care during this time when their ability to pay child care co-payments may be impacted.”
Families participating in the CAPS program share in the cost of paying for child care based on their income and household size. This amount is referred to as a family fee. Also, families are responsible for paying the difference between the amount their selected child care program charges and the amount CAPS will pay. This is known as their rate differential. The family fee plus the rate differential is the amount each family pays the provider weekly, which is called their Parent Weekly Responsibility. Under the ACCESS Initiative, the Parent Weekly Responsibility will be waived beginning May 17, 2021, through October 2, 2022. CAPS families will no longer be responsible for making weekly payments to child care providers for tuition.
According to Childcare Aware of America, the average annual price for full-time infant care in a child care center in Georgia is approximately $8,729 or $168/week. Using this figure, ACCESS will save families enrolled in the CAPS program on average $35/week, or $1,820/year per child, on their childcare costs.
Since March 2020, DECAL has waived certain CAPS policies to support families and childcare providers impacted by COVID-19. More information on ACCESS is available by calling 1-833-4GA-CAPS (1-833-442-2277). To learn more about CAPS policies and procedures, visit https://caps.decal.ga.gov/en/.