DeWine says he wants to make Ohio family-friendly

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine said Friday he plans to expand initiatives to better support Ohio parents, months after pledging to expand child and family programs as the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade paved the way for Ohio’s “heartbeat” abortion ban to take effect.

The Bold Beginning Initiative and the Governor’s Children’s Initiative, according to the governor’s office, have previously invested a combined $1 billion in plans and policies surrounding healthcare, and jobs that support new families, and the expanded initiatives will do more, the governor’s office said.

But DeWine outlined some of the details of a plan to expand on that Friday.

“I have a vision for Ohio to be the best place in the nation to have a baby and raise a family,” DeWine, who is running for re-election against former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, said in a news release outlining some of his goals.

Whaley has made abortion the centerpiece of her campaign against DeWine, who signed the “heartbeat” law that bans abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is usually around six weeks and before many women know they are pregnant. The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and return questions of abortion access to the states created an opening for that law to take effect.

Speaking during a live broadcast in June after the court’s decision, DeWine vowed to push for expanded healthcare coverage for more mothers and children “so that no child in Ohio goes without regular primary care doctor visits, preventative care, and childhood vaccinations.”

On Friday, he said he would work with the GOP-controlled state legislature to both increase the eligibility for Medicaid-sponsored health care for pregnant women and children in families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level. The income limit for a single expectant mother would be $54,930 per year. It grows to $69,090 a year for a family of three.

He also wants to increase Medicaid eligibility for adopted children.

DeWine’s office said his plan would add resources for prenatal and birth care, and expand mental health resources for post-partum mothers.

In addition, the governor says he plans to support the OhioRISE program for families with children who have special needs, increase funding for free car seats and cribs, support programs to ensure stable housing for new mothers, and eliminate the state tax on baby supplies.

The governor also pledged to increase spending on the foster care system and adoption support programs and said the state of Ohio will pursue family-friendly policies for its employees.

Such policies include eliminating insurance co-pays related to prenatal care, labor, and delivery for state employees, extending paid maternity leave from six weeks to 12 weeks and eliminating the two-week waiting period state employees have to access paid parental leave.

Some of the Bold Beginning Health, Stable Families initiatives are being implemented or expanded, while others will require legislation, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

“This approach, helping both babies, and their families, will have a profound impact on our communities and our economy, said DeWine. “Supporting Ohio’s families now will help children thrive as adults and continue leading our great state to an even brighter future.”