ATLANTA, Ga. – Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) is collaborating with Quality Care for Children (QCC) to help parents find summer camps and child care programs in Georgia for the summer.
Parents can speak with a summer camp referral specialist by calling 1-877-ALL-GA-KIDS (877-255-4254) Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
“Our first recommendation to parents looking for summer camp is to start as early as possible,” said QCC Chief Executive Officer Pam Tatum. “Many camps and child care programs offer scholarships, sliding scale fees, and discounts for registering multiple children. By beginning early, families can find child care that fits their budget, alleviate fears regarding child safety, read reviews of the program, and find a program most convenient to where they live.”
It is important to note that summer day camps must be licensed.
“Summer camp does more than just provide child care for a family when children are not in school,” said DECAL Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs. “Attending camp in the summer can help children learn how to work with others, build meaningful relationships, accept guidance, express creativity, and become more independent and confident.”
Often families don’t know what to look for or what questions to ask when looking for a summer camp for their children. DECAL and QCC have partnered to create these resources so families can do their homework and make informed decisions about the right camp for their children,” Jacobs said.
DECAL and QCC have produced a thirty-second public service announcement to promote the campaign through print, broadcast, and social media. The campaign is currently underway. You can view the PSA at: https://youtu.be/QWGs1EaNpus
Officials encourage parents to consider the following questions when selecting a summer camp or child care program:
- Is the program licensed or accredited? If not, has DECAL granted the program an exemption?
- Has the owner/operator screened all staff, with what methods, and how thoroughly?
- What are the hours of operation, fees, and payment procedures?
- Are parents/guardians welcome to visit at all times?
- Is there a daily lesson plan?
- What are the program’s health, safety, and nutrition policies and procedures?
- Does the staff/child ratio and group size fit into the Georgia maximum staff-to-child ratio?
- Is the staff well-trained? Do they have experience with early childhood/school-age care or children with special needs? What about CPR and First Aid training, or appropriate licensing for transporting children?
“Parents should be aware that there are no assurances that state health and safety requirements are met or enforced in exempt programs; therefore, they should always check a provider’s background and experience before choosing a camp or child care program,” Jacobs said. “Also, exempt programs are required to notify and inform all parents or guardians that they are not licensed by the state.”
DECAL can rescind an exemption if the program submits false information, loses accreditation, or fails to comply with requirements of local, regional and state health departments, fire marshal, fire prevention, and building and zoning guidelines. The exemption process is outlined on the DECAL website at: http://www.decal.ga.gov/ChildCareServices/Exemptions.aspx
The public is encouraged to call DECAL with concerns at 404-657-5562 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.