ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) — As the high cost of child care, coupled with a pandemic, weighs heavy on low income families, the state is expanding a program that will remove some of the burden.

Miranda Gore, a social media manager, knows first hand about the struggles of paying for child care. She’s a single parent of five kids. “You have people that are trying to decide between rent and medicine and childcare. I am in relation to any parent that is trying to make ends meet,” she said. A Child Care Aware of America report shows the average cost just for full-time infant care in Georgia is about $168 a week. Gore remembers when she qualified for help through CAPS, the Childcare and Parent Services program. “I was in tears when I got the letter that said they were going to extend funding,” she said.

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The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) administers the program, serving 50,000 children and offsetting some of the costs for low income families. Governor Brian Kemp announced plans to extend it to 10,000 more children, effective November 1, 2021, using American Rescue Plan funds. “We’re very excited to be able to expand that access, so that more families have access to high quality early learning experiences,” said DECAL Deputy Commissioner Elisabetta Kasfir.

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They’re also increasing the income eligibility threshold from 50% of the state median income to 85%. “Right now, because of the ACCESS initiative, Awarding Child Care Education Supplements, we’re actually paying the full cost,” Kasfir said. Gore is now adding “CAPS program cheerleader” to her resume. “It was a game changer. I can’t reiterate enough,” she said.

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The expansion is expected to continue through October 1, 2024. For information on CAPS, click here.