Today, all eight members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus urged Governor Mike DeWine to veto a provision of House Bill 169 that would suspend the one-star rating requirement for publicly funded child care in the Step Up to Quality program until December 31, 2022.
“We ask for this particular veto because we believe we must remain committed to an open and public process to determine a path forward for Ohio’s quality child care system,” they said in the letter.
H. B. 169 appropriates $4.18 billion in federal Covid-19 relief funding for schools, childcare, health care, law enforcement, employment and other essential areas. The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday added a provision to suspend the Step Up to Quality Program until the end of 2022. Senate Democrats said doing so “subverts the commitment” the General Assembly made in the operating budget in June, which created the Study Committee on Ohio’s Publicly Funded Child Care & Step Up to Quality Program.
“Last-minute maneuvers to undermine a system that provides critical supports to our youngest children and working families cannot be tolerated,” Senate Democrats said. “We are especially concerned about how children being served by publicly funded child care in Ohio will be affected by this suspension.”
The legislators said that eliminating standards for child care will have a disproportionate impact on children of color and low-income children, who are primarily served by publicly funded childcare in Ohio. They said that the Step Up to Quality program suspension would create additional kindergarten readiness achievement gaps and not address the root cause of child care centers’ current inability to fully operate.
“We need a sustainable and long-term solution that first addresses the workforce shortage we are facing so centers can operate at capacity, not compromise quality with the hopes that more unrated child care centers will open,” Senate Democrats said.
The full letter can be found here