SENATE VERSION OF STATE BUDGET HURTS YOUNG CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Ohio Budget News
Northeast Ohio leaders call on the House and Senate to replace Governor’s investments in child care and remove harmful changes to Step Up To Quality
CLEVELAND – The Ohio Senate’s version of the state budget further cuts investments in child care that would stabilize the child care workforce and provide essential mental health services for young children. Disappointingly, the Senate stripped away funding proposed in the Governor’s version of the budget that would provide $150 million in child care scholarships for Ohio’s critical occupations, reduced the number of families eligible to participate in Ohio’s subsidized child care system, and reduced funding for mental health supports by $15 million. Additionally, changes made to Ohio’s Step Up To Quality system by the Senate would dramatically reduce the number of children accessing critical early education services throughout Ohio.
Nancy Mendez, President and CEO of Starting Point, said Ohio’s working families will be hurt by the Senate’s decision to reduce access to affordable early care and education options. “This is a huge missed-opportunity to move the state’s economy forward. Communities across the state have child care shortages. The key to attracting families to Ohio and keeping young people here to start families is high-quality child care. Child care scholarships can help remove cost barriers for families seeking child care, including for child care workers themselves who make an average of $13 per hour, and would have helped Ohioans back to work,” she said.
Additionally, changes to Ohio’s Step Up To Quality system, including increasing exemptions for child care programs serving low-income children from participating in the quality rating system, will have deep impacts on the education outcomes for children in state-funded child care settings. Katie Kelly, Executive Director of PRE4CLE, points to results gathered in Cleveland over an eight-year period showing the impact of programs obtaining higher ratings in the State’s Step Up To Quality program, saying, “Step Up To Quality supports child care programs to obtain the resources, training, and program elements to ensure that children receive not just care in those settings, but also an enriching early learning experience. In Cleveland, we consistently see a 20-percentage point difference on kindergarten readiness scores between children who are in an unrated child care program vs. children who are in highly-rated Step Up To Quality programs.”
Shawna Rohrman, Director of Cuyahoga County’s Office of Early Childhood/Invest in Children initiative, cited the negative impact of stripping away critical supports for Ohio’s Early Childhood Mental Health (ECMH) Consultation in the Senate’s budget. “ECMH consultation provides early childhood educators with specialized professional development and ensures they are prepared to care for children requiring significant levels of extra support – including many who have a history of trauma and or abuse. The House and Senate’s decision to remove funding for this priority comes at a time where there is widespread recognition that our young children and youth are facing mental health challenges at levels never before seen. Recent data show that 1 in 5 children in Ohio are experiencing a mental health condition – yet less than half of those children receive treatment.”
“This budget is an opportunity for our state leaders to follow through on their desire to promote strong families and ensure the lives of all children are protected, nurtured, and valued. The changes made to early care and education, mental health, and overall investments in children by the House and Senate that remove funding and reduce access work against those goals and will weaken our state for generations”, Kelly stated.
Leaders from Northeast Ohio are calling on the House and Senate to replace the funding removed from the Governor’s budget proposal for child care eligibility, child care scholarships for critical workers, and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation, as well as remove the harmful provisions that would weaken Ohio’s early education system by further eroding Step Up To Quality.
About Starting Point:
Starting Point prepares children and youth for a lifetime of success by building the capacity of professionals to provide high-quality care and education, connecting families to those services, and advocating for systems change. Founded in 1990, Starting Point serves Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lake counties. www.starting-point.org
PRE4CLE is a collective impact initiative working to expand access to all 3- and 4-year-olds in the city of Cleveland so that every child enters kindergarten ready to succeed. PRE4CLE connects families to high-quality public and private preschool programs; connects preschool providers to tools, resources, and key partners to increase their quality and serve more children; and provides strategic leadership and advocacy to accelerate the availability of high-quality preschool in Cleveland.
PRE4CLE was developed in 2014 to fulfill a core goal of Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools and is guided by The Cleveland Early Childhood Compact, a public-private leadership body. For more information visit www.PRE4CLE.org.
About Invest in Children:
Invest in Children is a community-wide public/private partnership administered by the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood. The partnership mobilizes resources and research to ensure the well-being of all young children in Cuyahoga County. Invest In Children