The annual Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Data Book, which looks state by state at the well-being of children and families, ranks Ohio as 29th overall. The study measures socio-economic factors including access to quality childcare, preK education, and public education.
Well-Being Red Flags
After a review of the report, Cleveland.com’s Gretchen Cuda Kroen detailed some “troubling statistics:”
- 57% of 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool
- 65% of fourth-graders do not meet proficiency standards in reading
- 71% of eighth-graders are not proficient in math, according to the study.
- 16% of Ohio students do not graduate from high school.
Nadia Ramlagan of Ohio News Service also noted major concerns with Ohio’s child care system, “the new data showed average child care costs for one child in 2021 topped $10,000 per year…” and “In 2021, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows Ohio hit a twenty-year low in the number of child care workers, with around 12,000 across 88 counties.”
Budget Fallout and Legislative Needs
Many of these issues were addressed in Governor Dewine’s proposed budget; however Senate Republicans stripped those funds from their budget. The final budget, signed by Dewine, contained more conservative funds for education initiatives highlighted in this report.
Education and children’s advocates hope that federal funding and initiatives will fill the gap in Ohio children’s well-being. An executive order issued by President Biden this year aims to expand child care access by lowering costs and raising worker wages.
Still, most advocates agree that state legislator’s need to do more in order to improve Ohio children and family well-being.
“Ohio has a long way to go when it comes to ensuring the well-being of its children. The state’s rank of 29th in child well-being is a call to action,” said Kelly Vyzral, senior health policy associate of Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, Ohio’s member of the KIDS COUNT network. “We must do more to invest in our children and families by investing in early childhood education, providing quality affordable healthcare, and creating safe and supportive communities.”