ECE Groups Form New Coalition in Ohio

February 28, 2019

Published by CounciLINK on February 28, 2019


iStock-536014873COLUMBUS, OH – Groundwork Ohio, the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA), Ohio Association of Child Care Providers (OACCP), Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (Ohio AEYC), and Southwest Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children (SWOAEYC) recently announced the formation of the Ohio Early Childhood Equitable Access Coalition.

The coalition is a group of early childhood educators unified behind a common policy agenda and committed to mobilize stakeholders behind shared priorities to advocate for increased quality and access to early education programs in the FY20-21 state budget and beyond.

In Ohio, the majority of children do not start school ready to learn. Only 40 percent of incoming kindergarteners demonstrate school readiness – so it is no surprise that only 43 percent of Ohio’s workforce has a degree or credential that qualifies them for available jobs in the state. But children of color are faring far worse, with only 23.9 percent of black students demonstrating kindergarten readiness compared with 47 percent of white students.

Concentrated poverty in Ohio’s rural Appalachian region also creates unique challenges to achieving positive education and health outcomes for children.

“Recognizing the unique barriers children of color and those living in Ohio’s Appalachian region face is a crucial first step to working toward equity for all Ohio (children),” said Groundwork Ohio Executive Director Shannon Jones. “Quality child care for our most at-risk kids is the proven intervention to prevent gaps in early learning and development from occurring and reducing disparities in educational and health outcomes throughout the life course.”

The coalition’s shared policy priorities to increase access to and improve the quality of early childhood education in Ohio include:

• Increasing rates for quality-rated providers to align with the federal guidance that recommends publicly funded child care providers be reimbursed at or above the 75th percentile of the most recent market rate to provide sufficient access for publicly funded children to quality care.

• Expanding the eligibility criteria from 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 150 percent FPL to serve more at-risk children in a quality rated program that positions them for success early and drives outcomes throughout their lifespan.

• Increasing investments to support the early childhood education workforce in order to recruit and retain qualified professionals.

• Targeting quality center-based and home-based early childhood programs to open locations in areas of the state identified as “quality deserts” with little to no access for children to receive quality programming.

Together, the Coalition aims to influence state decision makers and elevate bipartisan policy discussions to demonstrate the demand for greater access to quality child care programs.

The Coalition also will offer a series of advocacy trainings led by Groundwork Ohio to mobilize early education providers, administrators, and teachers to advocate for increased access to and funding for quality early learning programs with specific focus on achieving equity for children of color and those living in Ohio’s rural Appalachian region.

The Ohio Equitable Access Coalition is funded by a partnership formed by Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA), the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), the Center for American Progress (CAP), and the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) through the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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