Groundwork Ohio was established fifteen years ago with the same fundamental goal we have today--supporting the health and development of Ohio’s youngest children and, in turn, supporting their future, their families, and the great State of Ohio. Groundwork has been the voice of children and families through lean and robust state budgets, changing political leadership, and shifting priorities. Through it all, Groundwork has put kids at the center of the debate. And a global pandemic does not change that.
So… how does the organization 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 respond and focus its efforts during a global pandemic?
Given the rich body of research and science that governs our daily work, and in light of substantial new learnings based on our engagement with families, providers, and early learning and health leaders over the past several weeks, we offer these guiding principles. We hope decision-makers at every level will use them as a lens for all policy decisions that impact young children and their families during this time, as we respond to crisis and rebuild systems to better serve children and families during the recovery.
As we seek more answers to so many yet-to-be-asked questions about the coronavirus pandemic and our state’s long path to recovery, we remain vigilant to the shared values outlined in our guiding principles that inform our important work. Groundwork is committed to an Ohio recovery that leaves no one behind by building a stronger foundation for our youngest and most vulnerable children and their families.
Governor DeWine has made an incredible effort over the past weeks to protect the public from harm, support the health systems that are needed to fight COVID-19, address the severe economic impact on many businesses, and set the stage for a swift economic recovery. Child care is essential for each of these efforts. In fact, none of them can happen without a well-functioning child care system.
Recognizing the complexity of Ohio’s child care system and the unique needs of young children and families, Groundwork encourages the state and its stakeholders to consider all issues this vital intervention faces. Obviously, these issues can’t be resolved at the same time. However, consideration must be given to the full breadth of the challenges in order for sustainable progress to be made. Policy choices in the short-term that reflect the broader systems challenges will create a stronger foundation for which recovery can flourish in the long term.
The issues included for consideration create a basis for such thoughtful decision-making as the state contemplates its plans for the eventual re-opening of child care programs.