Child Care Providers and Community Leaders Testify on Devastating Impact of Proposed Reimbursement Rate Cut in 13 Rural Ohio Counties
Columbus, Ohio: Today, child care providers and community leaders from across Ohio provided testimony before the Senate Finance Committee in support of a proposed budget amendment to “hold harmless” child care programs in 13 rural Ohio counties (Allen, Ashland, Auglaize, Belmont, Erie, Harrison, Knox, Ottawa, Portage, Preble, Sandusky, Seneca, and Trumbull) who are subject to a proposed rate cut as the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) updates its publicly funded child care rates. The proposed ODJFS rate update was initiated when the federal government put Ohio on notice that its base child care rates were insufficient to ensure access for all Ohio’s children. Unfortunately, while the overwhelming effect of the proposed 2018 Market Rate Survey rate methodology is welcomed news, these 13 rural counties will see a rate cut under this proposal, which will create serious challenges to current providers being able to continue offering quality care to low-income families.
“Ohio’s publicly funded child care rates have been distressingly low – so low that the federal government has placed the state under a corrective action plan requiring a rate adjustment,” said Lynanne Gutierrez, Policy Director and Legal Counsel of Groundwork Ohio. “While we applaud Governor DeWine for using new federal child care dollars to adjust Ohio’s woefully low child care rates, the methodology has a negative impact on many of Ohio’s rural child care providers and the families and children they serve.”
Key excerpts from today’s testimony:
Ronald J. Rees, Executive Director, Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development
“Our tracking of data shows that over the last biennium we have had a net loss of 16% of providers in Ohio’s rural counties as a whole. In some of our rural counties, the loss has been 30%, 40% and even 50%. The primary reason for so many centers closing in Appalachia is a rate structure that varies by county and results in a significant variance in rates across the state. The rate adjustment proposed for implementation in July results in modest rate increases for some providers and that will improve their chances of survival. But reducing the rates for providers in this already struggling environment will only exacerbate an already serious problem.”
Peg Tazewell, Executive Director, Knox County Head Start
“Child care, and especially child care serving primarily subsidized children is a business that operates on slim profit margins. Year to date, even with the increases received in December, my child care operations are in the red. When I calculate outstanding reimbursements due, I am in the black by a margin of 1.8% -- it’s a fine line, especially for child care programs like ours that provide benefits, including health insurance, to our employees.”
Michelle Davidson, President, Imagination Station Learning Center
“Our county is in desperate need of more state funding to provide quality care and remain a valuable community resource. Should the state provide us with less funding, our program will be forced to immediately decrease or eliminate much needed resources in which our children currently benefit from such as classroom supplies, competitive wages and benefits for our teaching staff and exceeding minimum child/teacher classroom ratios. Private pay families will also have an immediate tuition increase. The quality of early childhood care and education in Preble County will immediately decrease and will neutralize all the time and effort we have accomplished to improve our programs.”
Today’s testimonies included Lynanne Gutierrez, Groundwork Ohio; Ronald J. Rees, Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (Ashland, Belmont, Harrison, and Knox Counties); Domanica Ede, Safe Haven Family Childcare (Allen County); Peg Tazewell, Knox County Head Start (Knox County); Karen Charles, Eaton Day Care Center, Inc. (Preble County); Lora Maxel, The Kid Connection Child Care Center (Preble County); Michelle Davidson, Imagination Station Learning Center (Preble County); Micki Sittloh, St. Clair Academy Child Care Center (Preble County); Jane Marshall, United Way of Greater Dayton (Preble County); and MaryBeth Bush, Mary's Little Lambs Childcare and Preschool (Trumbull County).
Groundwork Ohio is a committed, nonpartisan advocacy organization formed in 2004 that advances quality early learning and development as the most transformative strategy to improve school outcomes, increase the life-long success of Ohio’s children, and lay a strong foundation for economic prosperity in the state of Ohio. To learn more about Groundwork Ohio visit www.GroundworkOhio.org and follow us on Twitter @GroundworkOhio and Facebook, www.facebook.com/GroundworkOhio.
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