ATLANTA — The average cost of infant childcare in Georgia is $637 a month, according to the Georgia Early Education Alliance. In metro Atlanta, it’s even higher, but the Georgia Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) could help cover that cost.
Meghan McBride received the CAPS childcare subsidy when she became a teen mom.
“I was 14 years old when I got pregnant, I was in the 9th grade," she said. "I got pregnant again when I was 16 years old, at which point I dropped out of high school.”
McBride said she couldn't afford childcare.
“I thought I was not going to be able to recover, to make my kids proud, to make my family proud," she said. “Childcare was prohibitively expensive for me. It prevented me from going to school or getting a job.”
That was until she heard about the CAPS subsidy, which helps families cover the cost of childcare.
As she pursued her GED, she qualified three times over: as a low-income student-parent under 18.
“I went to school in the morning full time, I went to work at night full time, and I would not have been able to do any of that had it not been for the childcare subsidy," she said.
From there, McBride quickly rose through the ranks.
“I got my high school equivalency, then I went to junior college, got an associate's degree," she said. "Then I went to Valdosta State University and got a bachelor's degree. From there, I got a master's degree in history and then finally a doctorate degree in 2018 from Valdosta state."
McBride is now the Vice President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, where she mentors other student parents, helping them access the same funds that changed her family’s life.
“I have students who skateboard here just to attend our program, they ride the bus sometimes 2 hours," she said. "Being able to really focus on their education because they are able to afford childcare now is going to be truly transformative for our students in the way that it was transformative for me.”
Amy Jacobs, commissioner for the Georgia Department of Early Care Learning, says the state used federal covid funds to expand the CAPS program.
The general assembly also set aside an additional $3.7 million in the 2023 state budget.
"It is a huge win win for everyone," Jacobs said.
Now they’re able to serve more families than ever.
“We've been able to increase our number of children served to 60,000, so we added 10,000 slots," she said. "We've also increased our income eligibility, making more families eligible for it.”
That income eligibility is now about $72,000 a year or less for a family of four.
Parents who are in school also qualify, as well as families of children with disabilities, those experiencing domestic violence, unhoused families and more.
Read more about eligibility here.
“This is not a handout because this is we really require that you're either working or in school," Jacobs said. "We're trying to get you really a leg up on your situation.”
A leg up for parents like McBride, who will never again have to wonder if she’ll make her sons proud.
“You can do it, you can achieve no matter where you came from, no matter what your pathway was," McBride said. “I think I've met my goal of making my kids proud. And I’m very proud of myself.”
Here’s the best part: there is no waitlist for the CAPS childcare subsidy money. If you qualify, you can get approved right away.
To apply, visit Georgia Gateway here.