Bobby Cagle, Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning commissioner, will visit Augusta next week to tour facilities and meet with local officials.
The original intention was to spend a day meeting with the department’s employees, but chief communications officer Reg Griffin said it developed into a three-day visit to tour facilities that have adopted the state’s new voluntary evaluation system and reach out to the community.
“Our department is one of those departments that may not be top of mind for a lot of folks when it comes to state operations, and yet we do a lot of important things,” Griffin said. “There’s a lot of things that we want to update folks on and mainly reach out.”
The department administers Georgia’s Pre-K Program, licenses child care centers, manages federal nutrition programs and oversees the new voluntary enhancement program Quality Rated.
About 1,400 of Georgia’s 6,000 child care facilities are participating in the program, which awards up to three stars on criteria such as learning environment, safety, staff qualifications and nutrition quality.
The system supplements the basic annual inspections required for state licensing. Although it is voluntary, centers are eligible for thousands of dollars in cash benefits for enrolling, money for facility improvements from private sponsors and a firmer assurance of quality for families.
On Monday, Cagle will visit the Georgia Regents University Child Care Center, which received the top three-star rating this year. During his visit, Cagle will also meet with GRU President Ricardo Azziz, his department’s employees, local legislators and officials, Tabernacle Child Care Development Center, Wheeless Road Elementary School, and the Augusta Partnership for Children, Griffin said.