by Lynanne Gutierrez, Policy Director & Legal Counsel, Groundwork Ohio
Ohio’s 2019 state budget process had an unprecedented focus on investing in Ohio’s youngest children. The Groundwork Ohio staff was hard at work throughout the year, meeting with and connecting stakeholders to policymakers, engaging legislative staff, and elevating the issues facing Ohio’s young children, including:
- Sending 3,458 postcards to Ohio Senators and Representatives as well as the Governor and Lieutenant Governor from child advocates across the state.
- Facilitating 215 meetings with policymakers and Groundwork Ohio staff and stakeholders focused on elevating the importance of investments in quality early childhood programs in the state budget.
- Providing 49 separate testimonies in support of early learning and health initiatives by Groundwork staff and stakeholders.
- Sharing our advocacy and case for support in nine published op-eds and articles.
On July 17, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed our state’s FY 20-21 operating budget. As a result of Groundwork’s advocacy and strong stakeholder engagement in the budget process, the FY 20-21 budget includes a number of new investments to support quality early learning and healthy development for 0-5 year olds in Ohio. To name a few, the budget:
Child Care. Invests $10 million new state GRF for Quality Infrastructure Grants in FY 20 to support efforts to meet the 2020 and 2025 Step Up to Quality mandates and includes a “hold harmless” ensuring no child care provider would experience a rate cut when reimbursement rates were updated effective July 1, 2019 and protects providers from 13 rural counties who would have seen a rate cut.
Home Visiting. Invests an additional $30 million state GRF in Help Me Grow (bringing the total biennial investment to $70 million) to support Governor DeWine’s goal of tripling the number of families served by evidence-based home visiting programs.
Healthcare. Creates an enhanced primary care model (CPC for Kids) that supports improved health outcomes for children, a new care model that provides treatment to women with opiate use disorder and babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome in the same place at the same time, and extends Medicaid coverage for 12 months after delivery for new mothers.
Part C Early Intervention. Invests nearly $25 million additional state funds over the biennium in Part C Early Intervention, much of which will support the new automatic eligibility for children who have tested positive for lead and babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome. These can be especially harmful to children during their early years of development.
Early Literacy. Invests $5 million to create the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, which will support child literacy efforts in the state.
Check out our full list of budget wins in our Groundwork Ohio 2019 Budget Advocacy Impact Report.
While there are certainly many reasons to celebrate new investments in kids in the FY 20-21 budget, we know there is still a long way to go to ensure every Ohio child has the opportunity to thrive, namely by increasing eligibility for Ohio’s publicly funded child care program, which is currently only 130% of the Federal Poverty Level.