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A Year in Review: Big Steps Forward for Ohio's Littlest Learners in 2019

As the year (and decade) comes to an end, we can't help but reflect on all the exciting things that happened in 2019 at Groundwork. We are so grateful to have a fantastic group of advocates (like you!) who have helped us this past year to advance early childhood policies. While 2019 is almost over, we do have a lot of exciting things planned for 2020.

But first, check out some of our biggest highlights from 2019 and join us in celebrating a great year!

Moving on Up This year we were excited to add two new staff members to our team and expand our capacity substantially. Now, we are a small (but mighty) team of five! Due to our recent team expansion, we were bursting at the seams and moved to a new, larger office space. The office also came with a fantastic bonus: easily accessible parking! We hope you'll come visit us soon and meet our new team members!

New Investments in Young Children for FY20-21 In July, Governor Mike DeWine signed the FY 20-21 budget bill, which garnered unprecedented bipartisan focus on early learning and healthy development investments to support 0-5-year-olds in Ohio. The budget included new funding for evidence-based home visiting, child welfare, child care quality infrastructure grants, early literacy, Part-C Early Intervention, and so much more. Check out the details in our Budget Impact Report.

Elevating the Voices of Ohio's Early Educators In addition to parents and caregivers, early educators play a significant role in the early development of many young children. This is why we have invested in delving deeper into research and policies focused on the early education workforce to see how we can better support early educators and, in turn, the children they serve. Recently, we released a fact sheet that provides an overview of the issues early educators face. We know this only scratches the surface of the challenges facing our early education workforce and look forward to releasing a much larger report early in 2020... be on the lookout!

Advancing Conversations Around Race and Rural Equity Groundwork spent the past year traveling all over the state to present the findings included in our Race & Rural Equity Report. During these presentations, we collected feedback from participants through surveys and video recordings on what they see as the biggest challenges for children and families in their communities and in their professions. At the beginning of 2020, we plan to report our findings, but for now, please watch and share our new videos! These videos are a collection of stories from early education professionals about what it means to be in the early childhood education field and how we can better support the families they serve.

Connecting YOU with Key Decision-Makers Throughout the year, we have provided training, technical support, and opportunities for you to engage with Ohio's policymakers, including the Laying the Groundwork Summit, which brought together nearly 300 stakeholders at the Statehouse. This spring, we also created an interactive toolkit with instructions on how to connect with policymakers. This toolkit provides a simple guide on how to engage with state and local leaders through meetings, program site visits, letters, op-eds, and social media. If you haven't already, check out the toolkit here!

Thank you to everyone who has supported our work in ways both big and small over the course of 2019! This work wouldn't have been possible without you.


Now Open: RFP for Quality Infrastructure Grants​

As you will recall during our state budget process earlier this year, we were able to secure $10 million in Quality Infrastructure Grants to go to local communities to ensure that we continue to make progress and deliver upon our statutory mandates around quality (all programs must be a 1-star by June 2020 and highly rated, 3-5 star by 2025). As a member of the Early Childhood Advisory Council, Groundwork was able to participate in the committee that helped mold the Request for Grant Applications (RFGA) writing process. The RFGA was released late last week and is now available for stakeholders to apply.

Thank you once again to all the incredible advocates who supported Groundwork's efforts with meetings, calls, postcards, and testimony to ensure this funding opportunity was included in the FY20-21 budget!


Today is the LAST DAY to apply for the Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship​

Today is the last day to apply to the Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship! If you have not had a chance to submit your application for the Fellowship, please be sure to apply no later than 5 PM today.

The Fellowship is offered to early education and health professionals from across the state to provide them with the opportunity to develop leadership skills, engage with thought-leaders and policymakers to advance quality early learning and health, and take steps to create state-, local-, and community-level change for young children in Ohio. Fellows will engage in a hybrid curriculum designed to build upon leadership and communications skills, expand knowledge around the landscape of Ohio’s early childhood systems, and empower participants to take on leadership roles in their communities and the early education and health professions across the state.

The Fellowship will incorporate in-person sessions, expert presentations, online learning experiences, and small group regional exercises designed to drive change in local communities. By the end of the year, Fellows will have gained the knowledge and tools needed to enhance their capacity to influence healthy development and early learning policies that will improve outcomes for Ohio’s youngest children and their families


Federal Appropriations Update

After weeks of negotiations, Senate and House of Representatives negotiators reached a bipartisan agreement on FY2020 appropriations bills. ZERO TO THREE applauds a number of funding increases that will help children and families thrive. Key investments critical to babies’ healthy development include:

  • A $550 million increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant;

  • An increase of $550 million for Head Start/Early Head Start (EHS), of which $100 million is set aside to expand EHS, including through EHS-Child Care Partnerships;

  • An increase of $2 million for the Infant-Early Childhood Mental Health Grant Program;

  • A $7 million increase for the Infant-Toddler Court Program;

  • A $7 million increase for Part C Early Intervention; and,

  • A $25 million increase for Preschool Development Grants Birth-Five.

Read more from ZERO TO THREE.


Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition Receives Funding to Support Local Organizations During Census​

The Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition (OCAC) was recently awarded funding from The George Gund Foundation and The Cleveland Foundation to support community outreach during the 2020 Census. This funding will go towards mini-grants for local, community-based organizations to support a full count during the Census.

This week, OCAC hosted a webinar on how the mini-grants will work. The webinar recording and slides are now available to access. The grants are available for regional lead and regional partners and are due by Friday, January 10th at 5 pm. To learn more about the grants, please view this FAQ document or email CDF-Ohio at and put "OCAC grants" in the email subject line

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