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Lawmakers on verge of throwing Ohio's children out with the bathwater (The Columbus Dispatch)

By: The Dispatch Editorial Board Access article Whether we will pay now or pay more later is being debated in our Statehouse.

An amendment to the Senate version of Ohio's two-year budget pushed by Senate President Matt Huffman would remove the Step Up To Quality star mandate for the child-care facilities we pay.

The Step Up To Quality star system passed in 2012 became mandatory in 2020 for any facility that accepts kids in the Publicly Funded Child Care program, which is an income-based assistance program available through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

Approved last week by the Senate, the budget is now back to the House. A final budget deal must be reached by June 30

Under Huffman's plan, providers still would be paid extra for earning stars, but those without stars could accept kids whose care is paid for by the state.

Huffman has a point that the program is expensive and, on its face, burdensome when it does not have to be.

The alternative for the sort of intervention Step Up To Quality provides is much worse.

A May report by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center says that quality care and education for children early in childhood can make a lifelong difference.

"Benefits of early child-care interventions are often long-lasting and include higher academic achievement, better employment options, and many other secondary effects such as better health outcomes and reduced involvement in the criminal justice system," the report says. "Early care and education programs have been proven to be effective in increasing participants’ levels of education on average, which in turn result in higher wages, increased labor force participation, and reductions to the unemployment rate."


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