Changes in state child-care system aim to reduce burden on providers

Rainbow Years Child Care Center teachers Abbie Beirise and Heather Simonds use bubbles to get the children to use their whole bodies before lunch Friday June 4, 2021. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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Rainbow Years Child Care Center teachers Abbie Beirise and Heather Simonds use bubbles to get the children to use their whole bodies before lunch Friday June 4, 2021. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services announced this month that a key state child care program will see changes designed to reduce bureaucracy and improve quality.

The changes impact Ohio’s Step Up to Quality child care program, which administers a multi-tiered rating system measuring the quality of early care and education programs that receive state funds.

Child care providers earn one to five stars based on a number of factors, including their curriculum, training and staffing. Step up Quality gives parents a way to measure the quality of the programs they’re considering for their children.

Matt Damschroder, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, pointed to three key adjustment areas, developed after communication with early childhood education providers.

** He said ODJFS reduced the amount of paperwork required for providers to reach the various star levels.

** Rather than reapplying every year, providers will retain their existing rating unless they apply for a higher rating, or are determined to no longer meet the qualifications of their current rating.

** New providers serving children receiving publicly funded child care will get one year of base-rate funding before earning a star rating.

Robyn Lightcap, executive director of the local Preschool Promise group, complimented the state for listening to recommendations from local providers.

“Montgomery County child care providers have been committed to providing high quality care and education. Administrators of child care programs appreciate the state departments hearing their input,” Lightcap said.

Damschroder said Step Up To Quality has a positive impact on children’s kindergarten readiness and third-grade reading proficiency. ODJFS officials point out quality child care’s importance to the state’s economy, so parents can work.

“In addition to the changes announced, we’ll continue to work with the legislature to ensure the program meets its goal of making quality child care available to all those who need it,” Damschroder said.

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