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Making the Case for High Quality Early Childhood Learning

By Malissa Harris, Family Action Network Member Americorps VISTA Member Tax Time Intern at United Way of Central Ohio

My three children have all attended Little Miracles EDC, a 5-star Step Up to Quality program. My goal is to tell my story of how high-quality child care can positively impact children’s academic success. This article will focus on my daughter, Lilian (6).

Lilian began going to Little Miracles EDC when she was six weeks old. She experienced a nurturing and safe environment with learning experiences geared toward her needs. From birth to three, she had a chance to learn through hands-on and play-based activities with trusting adults. A trusting relationship with adults in the first three years of life is the foundation of social and emotional regulation. These relationships have helped her be able to connect with others, build positive friendships, and self-regulate her emotions.

When she entered preschool, she was ready to learn because she could regulate her feelings. Mrs. Collier, her preschool teacher, was in tune with the needs of her students. Lilian was a child that needed to be challenged. She was able to meet all developmental milestones for math, science, language, and literacy skills for a preschooler.

The combination of trusting adult relationships and a teacher who provides academic support in preschool has helped her succeed in kindergarten and first grade. She can demonstrate problem-solving, impulse control, and empathy. Academically, she has been in enrichment classes to challenge her to understand more. She did not struggle with learning to read. She wants to learn more and understand information over a first-grade level.

What about the families who aren’t in quality centers? How can we solve teachers leaving the early childhood field? How can we ensure every child in Ohio gets to experience what Lilian did?

The 2024-2025 state budget provided $30 million for child care infrastructure grants to increase infant and toddler child care capacity in communities with high infant mortality rates, $124 million for preschool (additional 11,525 children to be served), and perseveration of the Step Up to Quality system. While these investments will help children, they are not enough to ensure children have a brain-smart start. We want all children to enter kindergarten ready to learn. If we want Ohio's youngest citizens to be able to have access to quality early learning experiences, we have to create a system where we will pay the people who are helping build the foundation for academic success. We have to educate families on what quality looks like. We have to help other child care centers understand the importance of providing quality early learning experiences.


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