Metro Atlanta daycare remains open after ANF investigation

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) – A daycare center in the Atlanta metro area remains open after a Atlanta News investigates first The story resulted in $60,000 in back payments from a state-run tuition assistance program.

“Without your involvement, I didn’t get any answers,” said Chrystalyne Rivera, owner of A Step Above Preparatory Academy, whose two campuses are in southwest Atlanta near College Park and another in Conyers.

Due to a change in the way Georgia implements its tuition assistance program, Rivera had to lay off her janitorial staff because she ran out of money and faced closing her business.

ANF ​​​​investigated

95 percent of children enrolled at A Step Above Preparatory Academy receive tuition assistance from Georgia’s CAPS program, which provides nearly $63 million annually to approximately 50,000 low-income families in Georgia. Each week, childcare centers across the state receive CAPS reimbursement payments through the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).

However, last November, DECAL decided to streamline the CAPS program, which is also managed by its third-party payment provider Maximus.

“We simply brought the vendor management function in-house with a new system called GACAPS,” said DECAL spokesman Reg Griffin. “This will provide optimized services and improve personal service for providers.”

“For more than 20 years, Maximus has worked tirelessly to support the well-being of children, families and child care providers in Georgia,” a company spokesperson said. “We stand ready to support the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning.”

But when DECAL switched to its new system, it created chaos for many daycare centers that were used to receiving weekly payments.

Many complained in a private Facebook group called Quality Rated Providers of Georgia. A DECAL spokesman said the new system was not working perfectly even now – six months after its introduction.

“We understand the importance of timely compensation for the valuable services provided by our CAPS child care providers and are doing everything we can to resolve any payment issues in the future,” Griffin said.

Rivera said at least five payments totaling more than $100,000 still need to be taken into account, three in April and two from last year.

After Atlanta News investigates first When Rivera reached out to the DECAL spokesperson for help, she received a call from an account specialist who researched her account and confirmed that A Step Above Daycare should soon receive at least two payments, enough to keep Rivera’s doors open.

These payments totaling $60,000 have been received, with the remainder of the back payments promised.

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