Groundwork Ohio Releases Report on Early Childhood Equity and Encourages Policymakers to Recognize Racism as a Public Health Crisis
Columbus, Ohio: Today, Groundwork Ohio released a new report on equity for young children in Ohio. The release event included an overview of the report’s findings and a panel discussion with leading health and human services policymakers in the Ohio General Assembly. The report, Drafting a New Blueprint for Success: Reflections on Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity, serves as a follow-up to the organization’s groundbreaking 2018 report, which explored disaggregated data across 26 child-focused metrics and illustrated the stark reality that a child’s zip code and the color of his or her skin are too often determinative of education and health outcomes throughout the life course. Now, two years after the release of Groundwork’s initial report, Drafting a New Blueprint for Success explores findings from statewide and local conversations about early childhood equity, delves deeper into additional metrics that impact a child’s ability to thrive, offers high-level recommendations for advancing early childhood equity in the state, and outlines the ways in which Groundwork is acting to ensure equitable outcomes for all Ohio’s children. “Over the past year as we’ve been dealing with COVID and the social unrest, racism has really been at the forefront,” said State Representative Erica Crawley (D-Columbus). “We can’t make change until we address it head on.” “It is more important now than ever to be evaluating our systems, policy choices and investments through an equity lens and prioritizing those children and families in our state who are being left behind,” added Lynanne Gutierrez, Assistant Director and Legal Counsel at Groundwork Ohio. “Our learnings over the past couple of years unequivocally validate that structural racism contributes to the stark disparities we see among children of color in Ohio and across the nation. A failure to consider practices and policies through an equity lens and to have the courage to address systemic racism will only serve to further exacerbate existing inequities.” Equity, as defined in the report, means recognizing that each child has unique barriers and assets—and that children with more barriers often need more support to give them the strong foundation they need to succeed in school and beyond. “Everyone should start in an equal setting,” said State Senator Dave Burke (R-Marysville). “The race of life should put every child—and adult when they graduate high school—at the same starting block. But it doesn’t always work like that… and depending on where you come from, that’s definitely not the case.” Among the report’s recommendations for advancing equity in Ohio are:
Investing in the earliest years of a child’s life, the prenatal-to-three period, to close gaps before they emerge
Supporting early education and health professionals
Centering the voice of families in policy development
Committing to collecting disaggregated data and measuring progress regularly
Engaging in cross-sector work to deepen understanding and influence on social determinants
“In order to provide that level playing field for our children and our families across the State of Ohio, our policymakers have to understand. And they can understand,” emphasized State Senator Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood). “[This] report helps us make the case and have those discussions… the cards are stacked against [people] starting out. And we have the opportunity to change that through policy.”
As part of the report’s release, Groundwork also encouraged stakeholders to take action by supporting current state and federal resolutions that are being considered to declare racism as a public health crisis: Ohio House Concurrent Resolution 31, Ohio Senate Concurrent Resolution 14, US House Resolution 1069, and US Senate Resolution 655.
The full recording of the report’s release event can be found here.
The Drafting a New Blueprint for Success: Reflections on Ohio Early Childhood Race and Rural Equity report can be accessed here.
Groundwork Ohio is a committed, nonpartisan public-policy research and advocacy organization formed in 2004 that champions high-quality early learning and healthy development strategies from the prenatal period to age five, that lay a strong foundation for Ohio kids, families and communities.