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This Week's Updates on Ohio's Response to COVID-19

Over the past two weeks, we have all experienced a great deal of change in our personal and professional lives. Many of these changes are happening at lightning speed in an effort to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the coronavirus. In this time frame, Groundwork Ohio has been working across all agencies and communities to ensure that early childhood voices are heard and to relay the most up-to-date information to the early childhood community. Under the new emergency measures, all non-essential businesses have closed, a stay at home order was issued, pandemic child care programs have opened, Medicaid expanded the capability for families to use telehealth, more employees are now eligible for unemployment benefits, low-interest small business loans are now available, and so much more. This week's newsletter is lengthier than normal, but we want to make sure that you have access to all of the information and resources we've gathered over the past two weeks. We are here for you and with you and will continue to provide these updates as they occur.


State Looks to Pandemic Child Care to Support Essential Workers

As of Thursday, per the Ohio Department of Health Director's Order, all of Ohio's child care programs are closed with the exception of temporary pandemic child care.  Until at least April 30, 2020 all child care programs operating in Ohio must do so under a temporary pandemic child care license. 

Earlier this week, the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services released new guidance on temporary pandemic child care licensing. In this new guidance, it further clarified that family child care homes are eligible to apply to be a pandemic child care. The guidance also provided:

By Thursday afternoon, there were nearly 1,200 licensed family child care homes and 1,134 centers approved to be pandemic child care programs. This temporary pandemic license will be required to operate child care in Ohio until April 30th. Click here to be directed to the ODJFS pandemic child care provider page to learn more. If you or your family needs pandemic child care, click here to be directed to the ODJFS pandemic child care family page.


Child Care Programs: Share Your Story with Us

Groundwork Ohio is participating in conversations at both the state and national levels to provide leaders with insights and solutions to address the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on child care providers. It is important for us to gather the stories of child care providers from all corners of the state so that we can not only share your experiences in our conversations but also amplify your voices in work over the days, weeks, and months to come.

If you are a child care provider in Ohio--whether you're from a family child care or center-based program and whether you've closed or are providing pandemic care--we hope you will fill out our brief survey to share how your program has been impacted by the recent pandemic.


Join Us for Today's Webinar on Support for Child Care Providers

Join us for an informational webinar on Friday, March 27th from 1-2 PM with Dayton Preschool Promise/Learn to Earn Dayton, Groundwork Ohio, Ohio AEYC, OACCP, OCCRRA, and others as we share helpful information and updates for child care providers. Today's webinar will cover information on…

  • This week's developments in state and federal policy

  • Small business supports (e.g. FMLA, unemployment, small business loans)

  • Report from pandemic child care workgroup (OACCP)

  • FAQs for providers (pandemic days, absent days, etc.

Over the past couple of weeks, Groundwork has partnered with other leading early education organizations across the state to share timely resources and information about Ohio's response to COVID-19 and its impact on early learning programs. We know that there are only so many webinars and conferences you can attend in a day, so we uploaded the recordings of these webinars to our website for you to watch, re-watch, or share widely with your peers. While we recommend watching all of our recent webinars, there are two webinars we would like to highlight:

  • Supporting YOUR Mental Health with Dr. Nefertiti Bruce Poynerwas co-hosted by Groundwork Ohio, Ohio AEYC, and Southwest Ohio AEYC. The goal of this webinar was to provide early educators with the opportunity to learn more about how take control of your mental health during the pandemic.

  • Ohio Child Care Pandemic Response Webinarwas co-hosted by Groundwork Ohio and Learn to Earn Dayton. The webinar provided an overview of the resources available to child care providers such as unemployment compensation and small business loan assistance and whether or not these programs support your business needs.  


Ohio Legislature Passes Bipartisan COVID-19 Emergency Bill

On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives passed Amended Substitute House Bill 197, an emergency measure to provide relief to Ohioans affected by COVID-19 and also to modify existing rules and deadlines. The bill passed both chambers with full bipartisan support and will be final once signed by the Governor. The bill includes language that delays the deadline for Step Up to Quality from July 1, 2020 to September 1, 2020 in response to the limited state and local capacity to finalize the rating process for child care programs during this time. We support the delay through September 1st for remaining programs as the state manages this crisis in order to prevent the loss of child care capacity. In the coming months, as we shift from crisis management to recovery, we do believe, however, that maintaining the state’s commitment to high-quality child care is of the utmost importance. After this period of chaos, children will need—more than ever—the consistent, nurturing caregiving that comes with high-quality early learning environments.

Other key takeaways from the bill include:

  • Suspends the staff to child ratio requirements and maximum group sizes at child care centers (aligning with the Governor's order);

  • Allows JFS to continue making payments to publicly funded child care providers during the emergency – all this is done within existing appropriations - and is done to maintain the system so it may quickly return to full operation;

  • Moves the Ohio's state tax filing deadline from April 15th to July 15th to align with the new Federal tax filing deadline;

  • Extends absentee voting by mail for the March 17, 2020 primary election to April 28, 2020; and,

  • Allows the Governor to draw down funds from the Rainy Day Fund with approval from the controlling board.

The summary of the amended HB197 can be found by clicking here.


Resources for Providers and Families

Join us for an informational webinar on Friday, March 27th from 1-2 PM with Dayton

We know there is a lot of information and resources swirling around right now and it may feel overwhelming to some. This is why we created two pages to centralize these resources for providers and families to include background information on COVID-19, financial assistance, grant opportunities, and activities for young children. We will regularly update both these pages as we receive more information.

We are currently working on developing resources for all early childhood related programs and hope to have this information posted within the coming weeks.

Do you have a resource that you would like us to list on our page? Please contact Julia Jackels at to share your resource.


Only Four More Days Until Census Day!

We are less than a week away from the Census Day on April 1st and we need to all work together in getting out the word to make sure Ohio counts all kids! The 2020 Census will decide how much funding our communities will receive for the next decade, meaning that a baby born today will be in primary school when the next Census comes around. This child may need access to programs such as child care, home visiting, early intervention, public education, housing assistance, food assistance, transportation, health care, and so much more and it is important to make sure they are counted so that they could receive high-quality services like these. Not only does the Census determine federal funding levels for Ohio, but it will also determine how many seats Ohio will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. Learn more about the Census here. Babies and infants are one of our most vulnerable populations and are in dire need of these programs during the earliest of years of their development. However, they are also the most undercounted population in the Census. In order to ensure that we continue to increase investments in these family supports, we need to ensure we count all people in Ohio -- regardless of age, citizenship, living arrangements, and so on. Everybody counts and we need your help more now than ever!


Federal Legislation Update

Last week, Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to provide relief to families impacted by the coronavirus (click here to learn more). Then yesterday, the U.S. Senate and House negotiated a bipartisan economic stimulus bill to provide relief to families and businesses impacted by the pandemic. In the stimulus package, there is significant relief for the child care industry to ensure that we have child care capacity during and after the pandemic. These relief measures include an increase in CCDBG funding, access to small business loans, funding for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, and an increase in Head Start Funding.


Guidance on Health and Prevention Measures

Below you can find helpful resources from the Ohio Department of Health on what COVID-19 is and how you can help in containing the spread of the virus:

In addition to visiting Groundwork's website, please visit the state's website for daily updates and resources. If you have any questions regarding the virus, please call the Ohio Department of Health at 1-833-4ASKODH (1-833-427-5634).


Each week, Groundwork will now wrap up our newsletter by spotlighting a Groundwork Advisory Committee Member to share the great things these Members are doing for young children in their communities.

Melissa Bacon

Director of Government Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement OCALI Website

Q: What led you to get involved in Groundwork Ohio's advisory committee? A: Applying to be a part of the Advisory Committee I believed was an exciting opportunity to engage with leaders across the state who are passionate about improving children and families lives in Ohio. Groundwork has a strong reputation for leadership and services and OCLI is excited to work with them.

Q: What is your organization currently doing to help support young children and their families? A: OCALI's Center for the Young Child is currently developing new training modules for child care to increase awareness and understanding on the signs of developmental delays and how to engage parents. We are also educating on supports and services, EI, and Help Me Grow.

Q: Tell us a fun fact about you. A: I am a proud graduate of OSU. Go Bucks!



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