Policy groups look to plateau child care rates


By Josh Ellerbrock - jellerbrock@limanews.com



LIMA — Despite Ohio’s plans to increase child care spending by $198 million, Allen, Auglaize and 11 other counties may see a reduction in the market rate paid out to child care providers if the state’s biennial budget is passed without an attached amendment.

Of the 285,000 children in Ohio who receive child care, roughly two of every five depend upon financial assistance from the state to pay a portion of the costs associated. But how much each child care provider receives is dependent on an adjusted market rate.

The state’s latest adjustment pushed that rate down for Allen County and 12 other rural counties.

In other words, there’s less money allocated for child care providers in those counties.

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Spokesperson Cyndy Rees and State Director Michael Harlow are worried such a decrease might lead to future crime.

“Poverty is a major indicator of crime, and we know that education is the best possible pathway out of poverty,” Lima Police Department Police Chief Martin stated in a FCIK press release. “Early learning is critical to getting our children on the right track. It is too late to wait until these children are college age.”

Rees and Harlow’s FCIK organization — made up of law enforcement officials and crime victims — have planned a statewide series to highlight the issue in order to push for the inclusion of an amendment freezing the rates for Allen and related counties.

Martin and Shawnee Police Chief Michael Keith participated in such event held Monday at Shawnee Weekday Early Learning Center. The two spent a portion of their morning reading to a small group of toddlers receptive to a story-time session.

“Ohio’s children deserve the chance to start strong, so they can succeed in school and in life,” Martin said.

But while such events help create public interest, groups related to FCIK are looking to make sure the budget includes the extra $5 million to $7 million to ensure such counties receive the same rates prior to the adjustment. To explain the issue, Rees handed out the public statement of Lynanne Gutierrez, policy director with Groundwork Ohio, who asked state senators to keep the county’s rates from falling on May 28.

“Rates are a critical piece to provide access to quality child care for poor working families and their children,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “These 13 counties, mostly rural communities, cannot afford to lose money given the critical work they do for children and families.”

Currently sitting in the senate’s finance committee, the state’s final $69 billion budget and its related amendments have a deadline of June 30.

The 13 Ohio counties that may be affected by a child care rate change include Allen, Ashland, Eerie, Preble, Sandusky, Seneca, Auglaize, Belmont, Knox, Ottawa, Portage, Trumbull and Harrison counties.

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By Josh Ellerbrock

jellerbrock@limanews.com

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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