Monday, February 2, 2004

Smart Start Georgia Grants Nearly $1 Million to Georgia Educators to Help Improve the Quality of Early

During the early years of development, it is important that young children form and maintain strong attachments to caregivers. Research from the National Center for the Early Childhood Work Force shows that every year, 40 percent of child care workers leave their jobs. This turnover has a detrimental effect on children during the formative years from birth to age three. However, programs such as Smart Start Georgia's INCENTIVE$ have helped Georgia achieve a low nine percent turnover rate among providers.

Through INCENTIVE$, Smart Start Georgia rewards early learning professionals for increasing their education and continuing their work in the field by supplementing salaries. This quarter, 2,040 early learning professionals in 124 Georgia counties collectively received nearly $1 million from Smart Start Georgia's INCENTIVE$ program. Of those, 288 INCENTIVE$ recipients are at Head Start centers and 726 INCENTIVE$ recipients are at Office of School Readiness Pre-K centers.

"Smart Start Georgia fosters quality early learning experiences so that each child in Georgia is ready to succeed by the time he or she enters kindergarten," said Sharen Hausmann, director of Smart Start Georgia. "Smart Start Georgia encourages early learning providers to achieve higher levels of education, which in turn helps our children achieve future successes in life."

Since its inception in April 2001, INCENTIVE$ has distributed nearly $3.5 million to more than 2,000 recipients in 124 Georgia counties.

"Research shows that children who experience quality early learning are less likely to drop out of school, repeat grades, need special education, or get into future trouble with the law than similar children who did not have such exposure," said Marsha Moore, executive director of Georgia's Office of School Readiness. "Initiatives such as Smart Start Georgia's INCENTIVE$ program help promote the high-quality, stable learning environments needed for children to succeed later in life."

For additional information on Smart Start Georgia programs or how to become involved, please call 1.877.STARTGA or visit