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State hoping to make finding child care easier
in hall
Summer campers wait in line to go outside and play Thursday at the Liberty County YMCA. The “nature boys,” as they are called, are one of several summer camp and child care classes offered by the facility. The Liberty County YMCA provides child care services for more than 137 children in the area. - photo by Photo by Frenchi Jones
The state opened a new program Monday to help parents of small children weigh their options for child care.
The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning program is called Bright from the Start.
By dialing 1-877-ALL GA KIDS (1-877-255-4254), parents across the state can connect with bilingual child-care counselors who the state says will provide them with quality child-care options from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Quality Care for Children has been contracted by the state to run the service, which costs an estimated $500,000.
 Since the referral service launched, Theresa Preston, director of development and marketing, said her office has seen a tremendous boost in people seeking her company’s services.
“We have seen about a 65 percent increase across state in the number of calls we’re receiving since we opened up the hotline,” she said. 
Some are looking for summer camps, Preston said, while others are looking for jobs.
“We have families who have lost their jobs and are trying to figure out what their options are,” she said. “We try to refer them to community resources, ask them if they are aware of all the resources that are available to them and whether they have applied for them.”
Before the creation of Bright from the Start, there were 14 different referral agencies across the state for parents to use.
Preston said finding the best child-care options turned out to be a chore for parents.
“It was very confusing,” she said.
 The new program, Preston hopes, will put less strain on already overwhelmed parents.
“It is about making information, more accessible, more accurate for the parents so that in turn kids can get better care.”

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