The following article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets because it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
While visiting the Columbus Early Learning Center (CELC) on Friday, Governor DeWine announced an additional $650 million in grants to help child care programs deal with pandemic-related costs.
Fifty percent of child care centers had staffing issues and 37% had increased tuition fees from July to November 2021, according to a report from Action for Children in Central Ohio. With this price hike, parents have struggled with rising costs.
More than 200 centers closed between February 2020 and November 2021, according to the study. Without additional support, nearly one in five vendors in the region were unconvinced they would still be open in three months.
Stories of staffing issues, declining enrollment and burnout have plagued the child care industry for years since the pandemic began. DeWine said he wanted to take this opportunity at the CELC to share his gratitude to the workers.
“Their work has been very difficult and we salute them and thank them for what they have done and what they continue to do,” he said. “They are definitely some of the unsung heroes of the past two years.”
In December, the governor originally announced $150 million in child care grants, but has now moved to dramatically increase that number. Totaling $800 million, the grants focus on operating costs, workforce recruitment and retention, access development and mental health support. This would include PPE, salaries, benefits, training, expanding classroom sizes and funds for stress reduction.
This funding came from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Asked about his previous criticisms of ARPA, DeWine said he was “going to take that money.”
“I criticized some of the programs, I don’t know if I criticized that – but, look,” the governor said. “My job as governor is to take that money and spend it in the best way possible, in conjunction with the state legislature, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
“Immediately, these Stabilization Grants turn problems into solutions to so many problems – our people, our capacity, affordability for our families, and enrichment of learning,” said Dr. Gina Ginn, Director of CELC. “The fact that it can also have a positive effect on the long-term health of our industry is a huge plus.”
The facility actually changed Tashuana Hardy’s life. When her daughter was only 6 months old, she enrolled her in the Champion Avenue location.
“CELC has since helped me and my family overcome multiple obstacles,” Hardy said.
She came to the center as a mother facing homelessness. Through this program, she found a place to send her children and was eventually offered a job as a teacher.
“I was able to work constantly, supporting myself and my family,” she said.
The DeWine team added that already more than $60 million in grants have been awarded to programs that have applied.
“Reliable, quality child care and early childhood education are essential for parents and caregivers who work and support their families,” DeWine said. “Child care providers are balancing staff shortages, changing demands and rising costs. These grants will help relieve providers so they can continue to serve families.
“As long as I am governor of this state, we are focused on young people,” he said.
According to Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association, these grants are available to ODJFS-regulated daycares, Type A and B family daycares, home health aides (IHAs), and licensed day camps, as well as facilities approved by the Department of Education of Ohio (ODE). preschool (PS) and school-age (SA) programs that are approved to provide publicly funded child care (PFCC). ODJFS-regulated child care programs do not need to participate in the PFCC to be eligible for these sub-grants; however, ODE programs must be approved to provide the PFCC at the time of application. Ten percent of the funds will be used to develop efforts in support of services for child care programs and the children who benefit from them.
For requirements, visit their website at OCCRRA.ORG.
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