Groundwork Team, We are happy to share in celebrating good news for Ohio’s youngest children in both federal and state policy arenas that we have been actively engaged in since the Fall of 2017, including regular communication with our Ohio congressional delegation and the Ohio state legislature. Our advocacy and the coordinated efforts of our national and state leaders have been critical to ensuring the well-being of our youngest children. Today, we thank you for your continued commitment to Ohio kids and for your support in achieving the following wins for Ohio kids:
MIECHV is Reauthorized: The Senate’s bipartisan budget agreement announced today included a five-year extension of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program. This means that at-risk parents can continue to work with voluntary home visiting providers to become their baby’s best teacher and caregiver in 27 Ohio communities across the state and that additional state investments in Ohio evidenced-based home visiting will be supported. Ohio utilizes a portion of MIECHV funds for research, evaluation and professional development. A 5 year reauthorization with stable funding over time allows for innovation as we continue to become even more effective in reaching our most at-risk babies and parents. To read Groundwork’s most recent communication sent to Senator Portman and Senator Brown yesterday, calling for MIECVH reauthorization, click here.
Increased Funding for the CCDGB: The Senate’s bipartisan budget agreement also includes a historic $5.8 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) over two years. This amount, which doubles current discretionary funding, would expand child care assistance to nearly 230,000. One of our national partners in this work, CLASP, estimates that 7,640 additional Ohio children will now have access to child care assistance. This hard-fought victory is a chance to realize the opportunities included in the 2014 reauthorization of CCDBG to improve the quality of child care for our most vulnerable children. Groundwork applauds this effort that elevates the importance of child care assistance for working families. To read Groundwork’s most recent communication to the Ohio delegation sent January 30th calling for increased CCDBG funding, click here.
Statewide Kindergarten Readiness Assessment Preserved: During the 6th hearing on the Ohio Public School Deregulation Act (SB 216) this afternoon before the Ohio Senate Education Committee, the bill sponsor, Senator Matt Huffman (R-Lima), offered amendment 132-1270 which removes proposed changes to the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) from the bill. The sponsor noted that there is currently a group of stakeholders discussing the KRA and the consideration of changes would be premature. No objections to the amendment were made and it was entered into the bill. Groundwork has been a leader in preserving a statewide kindergarten readiness assessment. During deliberations over SB 216 over the past four months, we have shared the concern that decisions concerning the administration of a statewide kindergarten readiness assessment require additional time and consideration among a wide group of stakeholders. We appreciate the hard work of the bill sponsor, Senator Matt Huffman, and the chairwoman, Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering), in listening to our concerns and are committed to working with all stakeholders to continually improve this important assessment. To read Groundwork Ohio’s most recent testimony on SB 216, please click here.
It is no surprise that much work remains to be done. While we are grateful for the leadership of Ohio's Senators, Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), in prioritizing kids during the budget process, the House and Senate now must come to an agreement and pass a spending bill by the end of Thursday in order to keep the government open. Similarly, we continue to engage with stakeholders on Ohio's Kindergarten Readiness Assessment as SB 216 moves through the state legislative process. Thank you for all you have done to contribute to these important efforts--we know many people have been engaged in this work for a long time. We will keep you posted as progress continues! Warm personal regards, Shannon Jones Executive Director Groundwork Ohio