ATLANTA — A new study from a Washington, D.C.-based think tank shows a decline in the number of child-care workers in Georgia over the last several years, a decline that has been particularly devastating during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s updated National and State Child Care Data report, there were 14,350 child care workers in Georgia in 2020. That number represents a 17% decline in the number of child care workers from 2019 and a 25% decline since 2016.
In 2020, the annual mean salary for Georgia’s child care workers was $21,100. The ratio of child care workers in Georgia to infants is 1 to 6; 1 to 8 for young toddlers; 1 to 15 for older toddlers; and 1 to 18 for preschoolers. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, best practice ratios should be 1 to 4; 1 to 4; 1 to 6 and 1 to 10 for those respective categories.
“COVID-19 laid bare many of the challenges in our nation’s child care system,” said Luci Manning, spokesperson for the organization. “These issues include retaining and recruiting staff, the high-cost burden on parents, and lack of a sustainable business model for child care providers — many of which are women-owned small businesses.”
According to the organization, nearly 24 million children ages 5 and under live in the U.S., with 63% living in households in which both parents work
In Georgia, there are 784,969 children ages 5 and under, according to the report. While 63% of those children live in households in which both parents work, 24% live in families below the poverty line.