(Ohio) – A recent spending bill signed by Governor Dewine allocates close to $500 million dollars in federal pandemic relief funds for Ohio’s childcare industry. The Department of Jobs and Family Services will spend $499 million in direct payments to providers serving children.
The bill redirects $499 million dollars the state received from the American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden in March of 2021. Previously, the funds were being used to help families with childcare costs or recruit and retain childcare workers. Now Jobs and Family Services will pay childcare facilities directly.
Tuscarawas County Jobs and Family Services Director, David Havervfield notes that while he has, “not yet received ansdy guidance on how it will be spent, but based on what we have been told, a significant portion will be used to supplant TANF funds which have been used to cover child care.”
Haverfield does not anticipate any additional funds to spend locally from this particular bill, however, “there are likely to be significant changes proposed in the Governor’s budget proposal which is expected at the end of the month.”
An amendment to the bill also removes requirements for some facilities to participate in the Step Up to Quality program, which the state uses to rate childcare facilities. Governor Dewine had previously vetoed these changes, pushed by Republican Senate President Matt Huffman, in a bill last year. Mr. Huffman believes that the requirements put too much of a burden on childcare providers.
Lawmakers and advocates opposed to these changes say this amendment weakens the preschool quality program that the legislature’s own research supports.
According to Katie Kelly, executive director of PRE4CLE, “The changes made to Step Up To Quality in this amendment do not increase access to quality care; disincentivize child care programs to improve their quality; proactively remove assurances to families that their children will receive a safe, stimulating and educational learning experience; and limit the impact and accountability of Ohio’s child care funding.”
To read the bill in full, follow the link below.
Use the links below to contact state legislators and Governor Dewine concerning this legislation: