Senate Budget Cuts Star-Rating Program For Child Care Providers
In introducing their version of the two-year state budget, Republican Senate leaders highlighted three areas – a 5% income tax cut, an overhaul of school funding and a big change to child care in Ohio.
Providers who want to take in kids who get state-paid child care assistance have to join the Step Up To Quality program, which awards theme one to five stars.
Senate President Matt Huffman has concerns about the program.
"Does this government mandate, this Step Up To Quality, what are the things that it does? Well, one of the things that it does is has put low-income day care providers out of business," Huffman said.
He said he tried to eliminate it in the last two-year state budget, but this document gets rid of the star system.
“So that program will not be there," Huffman said.
Huffman said the budget adds $20 million to childcare assistance, but also increases the annual income limits for state-assisted child care to a little less than $31,000 a year.
The Ohio Association of Child Care Providers said in a statement that reads in part: "All Ohio children deserve quality early child care – and while we believe expanding access to quality child care is an important step for Ohio, we cannot afford to sacrifice quality for quantity. It is clear that the Step Up To Quality program is working in Ohio, but removing required participation will only hurt Ohio’s children - particularly for Ohio’s low-income, minority, at-risk and Appalachian children."
Advocates for Step Up To Quality say providers who earn stars are better at getting kids ready for kindergarten, citing two recent independent studies in 2017 and 2020.