June 8, 2021 -
We have an urgent call to action for those who support United Way and quality care for our community’s children.
The Ohio Senate is proposing ending support for Ohio’s child care rating system. Known as Step Up to Quality (SUTQ), it is a five-star quality rating and improvement system. SUTQ standards exceed basic health and safety regulations required to be licensed and are based on national research that seeks to improve outcomes for children.
Participating programs earn one to five stars for meeting quality benchmarks. The benefit to parents is simple: a higher quality program leads to better results for their children. For providers, it is about getting the knowledge and training to help children achieve their full potential.
The state now requires all child care centers to achieve at least one star out of five in order to receive public funds to care for children, a goal met last year. In Hamilton County alone, nearly 1,000 child care centers and homes receive public funding and approximately 16,000 Hamilton County children receive state subsidies every month.
The Senate’s decision to make participation in the state rating program optional—along with other poorly-designed restrictions on federal Coronavirus emergency dollars coming to the state to train and support child care teachers—are devastating to the progress made in early childhood education over the past two decades. The pandemic almost wrecked the system—instead of rebuilding it, this would continue dismantling it—creating a two-tiered system where children in lower-income families do not have the same access to quality care.
This is of critical interest to United Way and our supporters. More than 20 years ago, United Way was a pioneer in making early childhood education a priority in our region by creating Success by 6®. In our commitment to the important role of “parent as a first teacher,” we created home visitation models for new parents, ensured the increase in quality preschool programs and laid the groundwork for the Preschool Promise levy and its renewal, which was supported by an overwhelming majority of local voters. We ultimately transformed the early education system for more than 6,000 children. The result is more children than ever in our region are ready for kindergarten, do well in school, graduate from high school and are ready for success in life.
Please join our efforts to change minds in the state legislature and make a point to the governor. We are asking for the restoration of the Step up to Quality program, removing language that prohibits how the state can spend federal funding for child care and increasing access to child care for Ohio’s families. This ask comes at a crucial time—the bill will be in the conference committee starting this week.
Here’s how you can make your voice known: https://www.votervoice.net/GroundworkOhio/campaigns/85773/respond
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Our children need us now more than ever.