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Ohio's One-Time Strategic Community Investment Provides Rare Funding Opportunity to Keep Child Care Facilities Safe, Warm, and Dry

By Brittany Boulton, Managing Director of Advocacy and Engagement, Groundwork Ohio Follow Brittany on Twitter and LinkedIn

Child care and early learning programs in Ohio exist in a complicated system that is under-resourced and in which physical facilities have historically been overlooked. As these programs, particularly those that serve children who benefit from publicly funded child care in Ohio, navigate a very narrow profit margin, any facility issue or safety regulation that arises can pose a significant threat to their ability to continue operating and providing quality care to the public. The impact of facility costs is inextricably linked to every other facet of the child care business.


Across the state, there are significant facility issues that, at best, undermine the learning of Ohio’s youngest children and, too often, at worst, pose threats to their health or prevent them from being able to access early learning spaces including child care and preschool programs in center-based and home-based facilities. While Groundwork Ohio has been supportive of limited investments that have targeted lead remediation (see Building the Way to a Healthier Future, 2020), we have been advocating for long overdue broader public investment in child care facilities since pandemic-era relief funding began appearing in Ohio in 2020.


The Ohio legislature currently has the opportunity to utilize once-in-a-generation funds through the One Time Community Strategic Investment Fund (OTSCIF), a pool of pandemic relief funds that was established during the Ohio legislature’s most recent operating budget process (House Bill 33, 135th General Assembly, FY24-25), to support critical updates to child care facilities that would keep them safe, warm, and dry. Groundwork Ohio is advocating that the Ohio legislature dedicate at least $5 million of this rare funding opportunity to support overdue improvements to community- and home-based facilities.


Funds could be deployed to make such basic improvements as roof repair, ventilation upgrades, making electrical wiring safer, and aging window replacements. Such investments would help providers save on utility bills and invest in programming. Funds could support expanded lead remediation efforts, in addition to removing mold and other contaminants from care spaces. Licensed home-based facilities and child care centers alike could make their programming compliant to American Disabilities Act requirements, increase security, optimize sites to include play spaces, appropriate bathrooms, and adequate kitchen spaces necessary for serving young children.


The OTSCIF provides a unique opportunity for Ohio’s legislature to spend public dollars in a way that will ensure the health and safety of our state’s youngest residents. We urge our legislative champions to prioritize the infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and educators who could benefit from a modest investment in ensuring the facilities in which they spend their time are safe, warm, and dry.


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