With the number of dual-income families on the rise, the need for quality child care has never been in greater demand. Atlanta is filled to overflowing with an abundance of well-revered early education franchises such as Crème de la Crème, Kids ‘R’ Kids, Primrose Academies and more, but for parents who prefer a more personalized approach to their child’s care, a local independent facility may be the best choice. Fortunately for Georgia families, Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL) launched Quality Rated in January of 2012 to “assess, improve and communicate the level of quality in early education and school-age care programs.” The Atlanta-area day care centers below have all achieved a three-star rating from Quality Rated – the highest honor bestowed to day cares that meet or exceed program standards.
Lanette L. Suttles Child Development Center
30 Courtland Street S.E.
Alumni Hall, G-17
Atlanta, GA 30303
Located in Georgia State University’s Alumni Hall, Lanette L. Suttles Child Development Center is not only committed to giving the kids in its program a great start to their education, it is also committed to researching the ways children learn and serving as a model to early learning professionals statewide. While interns from different departments at the University are occasionally assigned to the center, the staff is made up of a variety of highly trained professionals – including a program director, assistant directors, lead teachers, assistant teachers and support staff. Lanette L. Suttles CDC has a capacity for 156 kids, and accepts toddlers 13 months through four years. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)-accredited center is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta and is open year-round on Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Open Arms Lutheran Child Development Center
4655 Webb Bridge Road
Alpharetta, GA 30005
Located at Christ the Shepherd Lutheran Church in Alpharetta, Open Arms is a Christian-based, National Early Childhood Program (NECPA)-accredited program that accepts infants aged six weeks through four year olds for half and full day care. It also provides after-school care for local elementary-aged children with pickups from five local schools and is proud to be a part of the Georgia Pre-K program. Open Arms provides great extra-curricular programs for little ones such as Amazing Athletes, TLC Ballet and Little Amigos Spanish Program. Open year-round on Mondays through Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Open Arms has the capacity for 171 kids.
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Brookhaven United Methodist Church Child Development Center
1366 N. Druid Hills Road N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30319
The child development center on the lower level of Brookhaven UMC’s Educational Building is a Christian-based, NECPA program that accepts infants aged six weeks through four year olds. It is open year-round on Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and has a capacity for 113 kids. This particular school takes its mission of developing the physical, emotional, mental, creative, social and spiritual aspects of its students very seriously and maintains professional memberships in National Association for the Education of Young Children, Georgia Association for the Education of Young Children, Southern Early Childhood Association, The Georgia Preschool Association, National Childcare Association and the Georgia Childcare Association.
MJCCA Sunshine School
Temple Kol Emeth
1415 Old Canton Road
Marietta, GA 30062
As part of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, the Sunshine School is a highly regarded Jewish preschool located in East Cobb’s Temple Kol Emeth. Accepting infants through four-year-olds for day care, as well as school-age children for after-school care, the NAEYC-accredited Sunshine School has the capacity for 125 kids and is open year-round on Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is also affiliated with the popular Weinstein School in Dunwoody’s Zaban Park. In addition to providing a solid educational foundation, both schools pride themselves on infusing Jewish values and customs into their programs. During the summer months, the Sunshine School is transformed into Camp Billi Marcus and the Weinstein School into Camp Marie Benator for a fun and memorable preschool summer camp experience.
Stepping Stones Educational Therapy Center
141 Futral Road
Griffin, GA 30224
Stepping Stones is unique in that it is open to special needs children as well as students who meet the standard developmental milestones. The preschool aspect of the school accepts infants aged six weeks through five years old for day care and instruction, while the Academy is open to six- to 14-year-olds with behavior/learning challenges and developmental disorders. Offering a low student-to-teacher ratio, the Academy offers a Marcus Model Classroom – which is based upon the research of the Marcus Autism Center, one of the only three Autism Research Centers of Excellence in the U.S. Occupational, speech and physical therapy are made available at the school through Rainbow Rehab, LLC. The NAEYC-accredited Stepping Stones preschool is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. in January through May, and from August through December, the Academy is open 7:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.
Kasie Bolling is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.