New state mandates could force some child care programs to close

(Ohio) – Child care providers in Ohio are facing the potential loss of state funding and some may close as the deadline approaches for new mandates.

The new rules are set to go into effect in 2020 and proponents explain they are designed to improve educational offerings and better prepare children for school. The changes include a five-star rating system for child care programs receiving state funding.

The deadline to earn at least one star is July 2020 and three starts are required by 2025 in order for programs to continue to receive state dollars.

According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which administers the program, noted there is no need for panic over what’s been described as a ‘childcare crisis.’ Officials have explained in public statements that just over half the state’s children in state-funded centers are already in rated programs.

However; a recent report by the Dayton Daily News noted more than 1,000 of 1,513 centers in southwest Ohio alone, that receive child care subsidies are currently unrated. Reports also indicate that those facing the biggest hurdles are small, home-based centers.

The fear is that due to the strict mandates, some child care program operators will likely choose to close their doors, leaving many families to search or new providers. The state has indicated a plan to host fairs and events designed to help programs achieve the ratings as well as offer scholarships for child care teaching staff.

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Currently, more than $630 million annually is allocated to subsidized child care – funding centers that care for more than 100,000 Ohio children.

An added note, Job and Family Services released a study last year that indicated child care providers with higher star ratings are directly linked to better child outcomes.

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