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Ohio advocates speak out for young children during budget testimony

This week, early childhood experts from across the state, including our own Policy Director & Legal Counsel Lynanne Gutierrez, testified before the Ohio House Finance Health and Human Services Subcommittee on the importance of investments in our state's quality early learning system and programs that support the health and development of young children. We are so grateful to the many, varied voices that came out in support of the issues facing Ohio's families and kids. We look forward to continuing to celebrate current investments in the state budget and working to increase state funding in areas that need further investment! We hope you will join us in these efforts by registering for the Laying the Groundwork: Early Childhood Awareness and Education Summit on May 8th, where participants will have the opportunity to learn from early education experts and meet with members of the state legislature to discuss these issues.

Check out some highlights from our steering committee members and early childhood stakeholders during this week's testimony: “I urge you to support Governor DeWine's priority of making this research-supported, best practice available to more mothers in need. Incidentally, the Health Policy Institute of Ohio earlier this month pointed to home visiting as a critical investment to ensure children thrive. I mention that to assure you that confidence in the return on investment in high quality home visiting is universal… I am also grateful that Governor DeWine's budget directs the federal dollars to improving the reimbursement rates for Ohio's childcare providers. This is a great step forward. There will also need to be additional state investment to really make our childcare system work for children and families.” –Robyn Lightcap, Learn to Earn Dayton (Read the full testimony) “We believe that an investment should be made in supporting improving the quality of early education. The research is clear that only quality programs can produce the results needed to assure that the young children of today can be the productive citizens of tomorrow. We also support expanding eligibility so that more children can have access to high quality programs.” –Ron Rees, Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (Read the full testimony) “You have many important issues you are weighing in this budget, and we all appreciate the gravity of your task. What we would urge you to consider is the cost of waiting two more years to make these important state investments in our young children. Every biennium that we push the pause button on providing these opportunities for our children is allowing tens of thousands of Ohio children to miss an opportunity that is proven to give them a fair chance to succeed.” –Katie Kelly, PRE4CLE (Read the full testimony) “Across the country, 71 percent of young people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service… This is indicative of a larger issue—many of our youngest learners are failing to receive the strong foundation they need to succeed throughout their lives… It is crucial that our state work to serve more young children by expanding state eligibility to support additional families who could benefit from this critical work support and improve outcomes for our youngest, most at-risk kids.” –Brigadier General (Ret.) Charles O. Dillard, Mission: Readiness (Read the full testimony) “Make no mistake, private philanthropy cannot solve our quality childcare crisis alone. Private philanthropy can serve as a partner to state government, testing models and showing what works. But we must have the continued support of the State of Ohio to help providers reach quality ratings and year-round eligibility for Ohio’s working families to access that high-quality childcare.” –Tara Johnson-Noem, United Way of Greater Cincinnati (Read the full testimony) “The total cost of providing access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education for all children exceeds current funding amounts. Our system needs increased state dollars to ensure predictability and sustainability within the system so we can better serve our most at-risk kids, especially children of color, those living in rural communities, and communities experiencing child care deserts.” –Kim Tice, Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (Read the full testimony) “We have insufficient child care slots available in our county for parents who are doing the RIGHT thing – by either completing their education or working full time to support their families. Funding reductions will make a bad situation -- in terms of limited slots available in rural communities – worse.” –Peg Tazewell, Knox County Head Start (Read the full testimony) “In Ohio, child care at an accredited child care center is over $12,000 annually for an infant to $9,200 annually for a four year old. Without a subsidy, a family pays the first $5.76 each hour paying for infant childcare at an accredited child care center. This simply is not feasible for poor working families, shifting the burden of care to poorly paid or unpaid family caregivers.” – Brandi Slaughter, Voices for Ohio’s Children (Read the full testimony) “In 2017, our infant mortality rate fell in to 7.2 per 1000 births with 42 fewer infant deaths overall than the previous year… Sixty fewer babies born to White families experienced infant mortality in 2017, bringing the White infant mortality rate to 5.3. However 15 additional Black families lost their babies by comparison to the previous year, lifting the Black infant mortality rate up to 15.6.” –Tracy Nájera, Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio (Read the full testimony) “Like countless other child care providers, we see a much higher demand for quality care in our community than we can accommodate, with many families who live slightly above the state’s current PFCC eligibility threshold of 130% FPL unable to qualify for subsidized care. Although these families make too much to qualify for PFCC, they are nowhere near able to afford licensed child care at the market rate, let alone quality care.” –Tracey Rowe, Cincinnati Early Learning Centers (Read the full testimony) “If we really want babies to get a healthy start, if we want to promote early brain development so children will succeed in school and in life, we need our youngest children to be in the hands of individuals who have the training and knowledge to care for little people. Infants need everything toddlers and older children need — and more. The job of caring for them is much bigger; it is more than changing their diapers and giving them a bottle.” –MaryBeth Bush (Read the full testimony) “So how can we better support families and early educators? As a state, we need to ensure sustainable funding that not only supports investments that better reflect the real cost of providing quality care, but also expand our low eligibility threshold to serve more working families whose young children could benefit from quality early learning in our child care programs.” –Misti Norman, Heavenly Kids Center for Learning (Read the full testimony) "When we think about the economic growth of our state, the reality is that child care is one of the most fundamental components of our business infrastructure. A parent cannot go to work without a place for their child to be cared for. We are thrilled that the reimbursement rates for child care programs will improve with the additional funding from the Federal Block Grant. However, we are concerned that there is no significant growth in the things that directly assist those programs to reach quality – coaching and training in particular." -Vanessa Freytag, 4C for Children (Read the full testimony)


We need your input & expertise!

As you may remember, Groundwork Ohio is in the process of developing a strategy to support policies and investments that will help serve 50,000 more children in Ohio with the generous support of the Pritzker Children's Initiative. In order to better understand the barriers to accessing quality programs for families of infants and toddlers, we want to hear YOUR feedback! Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey below so Groundwork Ohio can work to create a policy agenda that best supports young children and their families.


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