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Supporting Ohio’s children by supporting their parents

As our country begins to reopen and return to what feels more like ‘normal,’ parents will once again be relying on child care as they return to in-person work.

It is good, then, to get confirmation Ohio lawmakers understand the importance of child care. According to the Ohio Capital Journal, leaders of child care facilities and advocates were worried about the fate of Step Up to Quality, as a Senate revision of the budget noted elimination of the state’s standard-monitoring system and ranking method for licensed child care programs was coming. It was saved in the final budget revision Gov. Mike DeWine signed.

That budget also widened financial eligibility for publicly funded childcare in the state, including for special needs children. That is good news and will help many working families, but as Shannon Jones of Groundwork Ohio noted, “the increase is modest and still leaves Ohio behind other states.”

According to the Ohio Capital Journal report, the state earmarked $50 million in 2022 for publicly funded child care, requiring these funds be used to “assist with stabilizing and sustaining the child care program, improve workforce recruitment and retention and increase access for families.” If working families are on the minds of state lawmakers, surely they know there is more they can do.

The budget also included extensions on Medicaid postpartum coverage for new parents and newborns, as well as a budgeted $250 million for broadband expansion project funding and money that will be used toward telemedicine services, with funds earmarked for children’s behavioral health. Though the Children’s Defense Fund — Ohio has urged further investment toward infant and maternal mortality resources and youth services, the needle is moving in the right direction.

Of course, lawmakers must have evidence the efforts they fund are bearing fruit. Simply throwing money at a problem has never gotten us anywhere. But as long as they do so in a manner that uses our tax dollars responsibly, it is important they keep looking for ways to support Ohio’s kids by supporting their parents.

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