By: Shannon Jones, Guest Columnist Access article When nurturing and teaching children — whether they’re toddlers or teenagers — the quality of their teachers matters most. This shouldn’t be shocking.
There’s no substitute for a caring, trained professional.
That’s why the Ohio Senate has made a huge mistake by proposing to cut back, possibly even dismantle, the state’s Step Up to Quality initiative in the upcoming two-year budget.
If Step Up to Quality — a rating system that requires child care providers who receive public dollars provide quality care — is weakened or gutted, children will be the losers. Young children need skilled professionals nurturing and teaching them when their brains are developing fastest and the foundation for school success is being created.
Step Up to Quality is working in just the way that was intended. Two different independent studies in recent years have shown that children in highly rated child care programs learn more and are more likely to have the skills they need to start kindergarten on track.
Quality child care programs aren’t just great for child development and kindergarten readiness. These programs benefit Ohio taxpayers too. A new report by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center finds that public investment in quality child care generates a 10% return on investment annually in Ohio through numerous benefits and significant cost-savings.
Many children today spend as much time in care outside of their home as with their families. Their teachers are helping them learn to talk and walk. The children practice social skills they’ll need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. And they’re learning early literacy and even math skills. Their teachers need training and education.
Step Up to Quality was created to give families confidence that their children are in high-quality learning environments, and it’s aimed particularly at programs serving children experiencing poverty and who receive public funding. The rationale is that tax dollars should only help support programs that hire qualified teachers and that genuinely benefit young children. Programs earn one to five star distinctions based on the number of quality benchmarks they meet.