Boost: Making College Possible
Boost: Making College Possible helps parents keep their children enrolled in high-quality child care while they pursue their own educations.
Name or Organization
Quality Care for Children (QCC)
QCC partners with 3 Georgia universities – Clayton State, Columbus State, and Armstrong State – to identify student parents for whom lack of affordable child care is a barrier to graduation and to collect data for use in affecting policy change related to student eligibility for child care subsidies in Georgia. In addition, we have convened a coalition of experts in early education, child welfare, and policy to develop advocacy priorities and messaging.
Quality Care for Children is a nonprofit located in Atlanta and serving the state of Georgia.
What is your stage of development?
Advanced Innovator with 3 to 10+ years of experience in ECD
What is the stage of your proposal?
Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.
Video of a student parent, her challenges, and what the Boost scholarship has meant to her.
Video of student parent, her challenges, and how the Boost scholarship has helped her.
Video of a student parent, how she was getting by before the Boost scholarship, and how the Boost scholarship has helped her.
Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)
Boost: Making College Possible is a two-generation approach that supports parents and families achieve educational success and escape generational poverty. Lack of affordable child care is a major barrier to college completion for low-income college students who cannot afford quality child care and are not eligible for a state child care subsidy in Georgia. Boost focuses on two generations, parents and children, and employs two strategies, direct service and policy change, to help low-income parents and their children be successful now and in the future.
Select an Innovation Target
System design: Solutions that target changing larger systems.
Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)
Young parents who have found a way to pay for and attend college, usually through a combination of grant awards, loans and part-time work, face a major barrier to college completion with lack of affordable child care options. Low-income student parents who cannot afford quality child care but want to remain in school for the sake of their and their children’s futures, frequently use a patchwork of informal care arrangements. Informal care can be unreliable and not only a barrier to the parent’s college completion, but also leaves their young children ill-prepared for success in school. Because 90% of a child’s brain is hardwired by age 5, the benefits of high-quality child care and early education include higher graduation rates and brighter, more productive futures.
Georgia is one of eight states that does not allow full-time students to receive the federally-funded Child Care and Parent Services (CAPS) subsidy. Boost makes college possible and keeps infants and young children in high-quality care by:
• Assisting low-income college student parents who cannot afford quality child care but do not receive a child care subsidy in Georgia, and
• Advocating for Georgia to change its policy to allow low-income college student parents to receive a child care subsidy.
What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)
By removing the financial burden of high-quality child care, Boost impacts the educational success of college student parents and their young children, helping lift two generations out of generational poverty. In addition, by collecting data regarding the impact of the program on graduation rates, QCC and coalition partners expect to have a compelling case to influence a change in policy to extend child care subsidies to student parents and an increased state investment to support subsidies.
Explain your idea (5000 characters)
QCC’s Boost: Making College Possible initiative (Boost) helps parents pursue their education without the financial burden of child care. Boost focuses on two generations, parents and children, and employs two strategies, direct service and policy change, to help low-income parents and their children be successful now and in the future. While high-quality child care provides children with the foundation for success in school and beyond, it also helps parents do better for their families. It is this two-generation approach that yields the greatest success for children, families, communities, and employers.
The first five years of life provide the best opportunity to affect a vulnerable child’s healthy growth and development. Ninety percent of a child’s brain is “hardwired” by age 5, laying the groundwork for all future learning and success. Decades of research provides a mounting body of evidence demonstrating that stable, high-quality child care has important, long-lasting benefits including higher graduation rates, better employability and brighter, more productive futures. Economists estimate the return on investment in high-quality child care to be as high as $7 to $11 for every dollar spent. At-risk children who do not receive high-quality early education are 25% more likely to drop out of school, 40% more likely to become teen parents, 50% more likely to need special education and 60% more likely to never attend college (Ounce of Prevention Fund). Every child deserves the opportunity to excel and achieve, to learn and perform to the best of his or her ability. Sadly the infants and young children who stand to gain the most from high-quality child care are least likely to have access to it. For low-income families, the cost is too often out of reach.
Lack of affordable child care is a major barrier to college completion for low-income college students who cannot afford quality child care and are not eligible for a state child care subsidy in Georgia. In order to remain in college, young parents often rely on a patchwork of informal, unreliable care that does not provide vulnerable infants and young children with the early learning foundation they need to prepare them for school and future success. Georgia is one of eight states that do not allow full-time college students to receive federally-funded Child Care and Parent Services (CAPS) subsidy. In addition to providing financial assistance to college student parents for child care fees, the Boost initiative seeks to collect data about the impact of the program on graduation rates to be used to influence a policy change to allow students to receive subsidies. Results will also be used to make the case for increased state investment in the subsidy program so that more eligible families can receive child care assistance. Expanding subsidy eligibility and increasing subsidy funding to serve student parents is critical to boosting graduation rates and helping Georgia create the workforce it needs for sustained economic growth.
QCC partnered with Armstrong State University, Clayton State University, and Columbus State University to design and conduct a program pilot that helped the universities and QCC design and launch the full program in 2017. Boost is open to currently enrolled junior and senior students at the three colleges. Applicants must meet the eligibility requirements for Pell Grants, meet and maintain a minimum GPA to apply and keep the scholarship once enrolled. Children must be between the ages of 0 and 4 and residents of Georgia. Boost will pay child care tuition of up to $125 weekly for the children of eligible students to attend a designated Quality Rated* program. Students can receive tuition assistance for up to 30 months ($16,250). [*Quality Rated is a voluntary rating system by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning that sets minimum state standards to improve quality of care at early education and school-age care programs.]
By 2018 approximately 60% of jobs in Georgia will require some college education or training. Currently only 42% of Georgia adults have a college education. Research shows the gap will widen unless steps are taken to increase college completion. While Georgia currently invests in solutions to these challenges through the Governor’s Complete College Georgia and High Demand Career initiatives, these efforts do not include child care, a major barrier to college completion for students who are parents. More than 50% of student parents leave college after 6 years without earning a degree.
The Boost Initiative is raising $4.6 million to support the dual strategies of providing direct service while advocating for policy change. Providing child care tuition assistance demonstrates the value of quality care and early education and informs QCC’s advocacy work. Our advocacy uses the return on investment in quality child care and early education to attract further state investment.
Who benefits? (1500 characters)
QCC’s Boost: Making College Possible promotes the educational success of two generations of low-income families with young children in three Georgia communities: metropolitan Atlanta, Columbus, and Savannah. By paying child care tuition costs for college student parents, we are able to ensure vulnerable infants and young children have access to high-quality early learning and their parents are able to complete post-secondary education. With their children in safe and consistent care, parents are able to attend class, study, and perform better academically. Participants tell us they are better students and parents without worrying about who will watch their children, shuffling their children from place to place, and trying to do schoolwork while also caring for their children. In addition, their children receive the kind of high-quality early care and education that prepares them to enter school ready to learn, laying the foundation for all future success.
100% of parents participating in Boost have remained enrolled and are on track to graduate. Similarly, 100% of their infants and young children remain in high-quality care, avoiding the effects of toxic stress that can result from unreliable, inconsistent care. Last year we served a total of 133 children through Boost. Our goal is to serve a total of 600 children – 200 in each geographic service area by 2020.
What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)
Extending the program’s impact beyond the families currently enrolled in Boost, the initiative’s policy component seeks to improve the landscape for families across Georgia for years to come via improved subsidy policy. QCC has convened a Child Care Affordability Coalition to lead advocacy efforts for increased state investment in child care subsidies; partners include Voices for Georgia’s Children, Georgia Policy and Budget Institute, and Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. This Coalition brings together experts in the areas of early care and education policy, state budget analysis, and advocacy, and leverages QCC’s relationships with parents and providers whose voices will strengthen the advocacy messages. The focus on a single issue – expanding funding for the child care subsidy – allows the coalition to expand and obtain support from organizations beyond the usual supporters of early care and education issues, e.g. those serving families in poverty and in the fields of job training, workforce development, and higher education.
QCC and the Coalition have engaged the services of Spitfire Communications to help develop messages and an advocacy plan. The group developed a sign-on letter, garnering signatures representing more than 1,000 organizations, which requests Georgia’s governor make and additional $9.5M investment in the coming year, and a related infographic to be distributed to legislators during the upcoming legislative session.
How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)
All of the children benefitting from Boost are from low-income families. Student parents who enroll in Boost are qualified by their respective universities as being Pell Grant eligible. Infants and young children from low-income families are especially susceptible to poor developmental incomes. While all children benefit from high-quality early care and learning, low-income children stand to gain most from these experiences, which level life’s playing field, laying the foundation for all future learning and success. By attending high-quality child care, low-income children avoid the effects of toxic stress that can result from the unreliable, inconsistent care upon which their parents likely otherwise would have relied.
The first five years of life provide the best opportunity to affect a vulnerable child’s healthy growth and development. Decades of research provides a mounting body of evidence demonstrating that stable, high-quality child care has important, long-lasting benefits including higher graduation rates, better employability and brighter, more productive futures. Economists estimate the return on investment in high-quality child care to be as high as $7 to $11 for every dollar spent. At-risk children who do not receive high-quality early education are 25% more likely to drop out of school, 40% more likely to become teen parents, 50% more likely to need special education and 60% more likely to never attend college (Ounce of Prevention Fund).
Innovation: What makes your concept innovative? (5000 characters)
First and foremost, there is no other organization in Georgia providing this type of assistance for child care tuition. We are tackling the problem of affordability and access to high quality child care for student parents by removing the cost barrier. And in doing so, we are impacting the educational success and future prosperity of two generations. The early childhood landscape in our region generally consists of separate organizations doing either policy work or boots-on-the-ground program work. Boost is innovative in that it represents a combination of the two: direct tuition assistance to student parents and advocacy for improved state child care policy.
Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)
The goal of Boost: Making College Possible is to provide child care tuition assistance to the parents of 600 children, 200 in each of our three Georgia communities: metropolitan Atlanta, Columbus, and Savannah. We are currently serving 185 children of juniors and seniors at Clayton State University (metro Atlanta), Columbus State University, and Armstrong State University (Savannah). These families will benefit from the direct service portion of Boost, having their child care costs covered so that children receive high-quality care and early learning while their parents complete college.
The advocacy portion of the Boos initiative is poised to impact thousands of future families with improved state policy that would permit full-time college student parents to receive CAPS subsidies. The advocacy coalition’s platform also includes plans to influence increased state investment in child care subsidies so that there is sufficient funding to serve the additional eligible families.
Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)
Quality Care for Children already has the staff, infrastructure and policies in place to serve the additional families this award would support. We have successfully completed a pilot of the program and have existing partnerships with local universities in the Atlanta, Columbus, and Savannah communities to identify and qualify eligible students. We are already serving the families of 183 children in these three regions. No additional staff is required to serve the goal population of 600.
QCC began serving families through Boost in December 2015. It was initially focused on helping low-income families continue to afford quality child care after losing their CAPS child care subsidy when they experiences a slight increase in annual income that exceeded the maximum amount allowable by the state. We’ve served 42 families consisting of 53 children who faced this predicament. With this version of Boost, QCC experienced an early policy advocacy success, with the state modifying the CAPS eligibility criteria to allow families currently enrolled to keep their subsidy until their income exceeds the maximum allowable federal limit of 85% of the state median income (subsidies had been limited to families earning up to 50% of the state median income). This change prevents low-income, working parents from falling off a financial cliff if they experience an increase in income that would have rendered them ineligible for the child care subsidy under the state’s previous policy. The state also invested $5.5 million in child care subsidies, the first increase in two decades.
The advocacy coalition has already completed its strategic planning in consultation with Spitfire Communications thanks to a grant from Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. QCC and its partners will utilize the data being gathered by our university partners to inform its message to influencers and legislators regarding policy change and increased state investment in subsidies. With 100% of participating student parents to date either graduating or remaining enrolled, and 100% of their young children enrolling and remaining enrolled in high quality child care, we feel we are well on our way to creating the compelling case for these changes. Our initial success regarding change in state CAPS policy adds to our confidence in the feasibility of further change.
Business Viability: How viable is your business model? (5000 characters)
The long-term viability for this solution lies in the advocacy piece of our approach. It will be the improvement of public policy as it relates to child care subsidies and college student parents that ultimately addresses the problem, rather than the Boost tuition assistance itself. Given the plan we have for working with our university partners to gather and interpret relevant data as well as our past success in this area, we are confident we will have a positive impact on subsidy policy.
HCD: How have you used human centered design to build or refine your concept? (5000 characters)
Through our work providing the parents of 185 Georgia children with Boost scholarships we have come to understand the full scope of challenges faced by student parents. College students with young children report feeling stressed, isolated, like the only student parent on campus, with no one to call on for support. Their drop-out rate is high and some report feeling that they are not being good parents or good students. In response to the needs expressed by these student parents, QCC is developing a model for resource centers that support parents in their family responsibilities and helps them successfully complete college. These Student Parent Success Centers will be Boost companion program, and will leverage existing university and community resources, create new programs and services needed, and provide an opportunity for student parents to socialize and develop peer communities.
Tell us more about you (3000 characters)
In 1979, Nancy Travis founded an office of Save the Children with a vision that every young child would receive quality early learning. She knew then through experience what research has now proven – children who receive quality early learning opportunities are better able to success in school and life. In 1998, the organization became Quality Care for Children (QCC), an independent Atlanta-based nonprofit providing child care food programs statewide and child care resource and referral services to 10 metro Atlanta counties. Since then, QCC has expanded its programs and service area. In 2009, QCC expanded the number of counties in its service area to 46 and was awarded the contract to establish the first statewide child care referral service, 877-ALL-GA-KIDS.
For more than 35 years, QCC has worked to ensure Georgia’s infants and young children are nurtured and educated. We employ a robust portfolio of programs and services and strong partnerships with child care experts and organizations to achieve our vision that every child will reach their full potential and enter school ready to learn. QCC is a leading resource for parents, child care providers and community leaders in Georgia seeking information and support to provide excellent care and secure the quality early learning experiences that all infants and children – regardless of race, gender, or economic background – deserve. Led by Pam Tatum since 2004, QCC helps more than 100,000 children – primarily from low-income families – benefit from high-quality early education each year. We accomplish this by focusing on CREATING QUALITY (providing training and resources to child care providers to increase the overall quality of care) and ENSURING ACCESS (helping parents access affordable, quality care for their children to ensure the best early learning experiences).
Over the years, QCC’s programs have been showcased nationally as best practices. QCC has received numerous awards recognizing efforts to provide children with quality care, including finalist for Carter Presidential Award for work in building the supply of quality child care in metro Atlanta’s Latino/Hispanic community, and the Doris Duke Foundation’s Exemplary Program Award for work in providing family support through child care settings. In addition, QCC received the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s 2013 Managing for Excellence Award, in recognition of the leadership and management practices that drive our success.
In summer 2016, following our initial Boost success, QCC shifted the focus to the next priority of families caught in the subsidy gap: low-income college students with young children. Lack of access to affordable quality child care is a major barrier to college completion for student parents. Georgia is one of eight states where parents who are low-income and attending a 4-year college cannot receive a child care subsidy while they pursue post-secondary degrees.
Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)
Yes. Boost: Making College Possible is already serving the families of 183 children. No additional staff or partners are needed to serve our goal of 600.
As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)
QCC would like to network with other states to learn about other solutions to the challenge of limited child care subsidy dollars. We would also like to learn from sister organizations in other states about ways to address the challenges faced by student parents.
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[Optional] Video: You are invited to submit a 30-60 second video that introduces you and/or your team and your idea.
We have included the above video with testimonials of Boost: Making College Possible participants as we feel parents in their own words can best describe the impact of the program on their families' lives.