COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) announced on Wednesday the recipients of nine grants, totaling more than $6.2 million, to grow the number of publicly funded child care providers and improve the quality of existing providers. The recipients, including Athens County, will work with child care providers across the state to create or improve programming, implement staff supports to improve recruitment and retention, and offer training to help them become Step Up To Quality rated or improve their rating. Step Up To Quality is Ohio’s quality rating system for child care providers.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer this assistance to organizations committed to joining us in our mission to improve the quality of early care and education for Ohio’s children,” said ODJFS Director Kimberly Hall. “Step Up To Quality has been proven to have a positive impact on both kindergarten readiness and children’s future literacy skills, both of which are vital for getting the best possible start in life. A young person’s early educational experiences help lay the groundwork for success later in life.”

By July 1, 2020, all Ohio licensed child care programs that receive state funding must participate in Step Up To Quality. As of December, 86% of programs offering publicly funded child care services were quality rated. The following organizations will receive grants to help reach that goal:

4C for Children: $2,006,045

Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clermont, Clinton, Darke, Fayette, Greene, Hamilton, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby, Warren Counties

Starting Point: $1,201,291

Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake

Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services: $1,199,525

Franklin County

Early Childhood Resource Center: $800,794

Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull Counties

Child Care Resource Center, Inc.: $371,154

Erie, Huron, Lorain, Sandusky, Seneca Counties

Action for Children: $229,102

Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, Union Counties

YWCA of Northwest Ohio: $177,622

Allen, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Lucas, Marion, Mercer, Morrow, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Van Wert, Williams, Wood, Wyandot Counties

Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development: $155,190

Adams, Ashland, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Nobel, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Tuscarawas, Vinton, Washington, Wayne Counties

YMCA of Sidney and Shelby County: $70,163

Shelby and Miami Counties

ODJFS has implemented multiple initiatives to help providers achieve and maintain Step Up To Quality ratings, including the following:

  • Funding incentive payments.
  • Reducing licensing application fees.
  • Dedicating ODJFS staff to meet with and guide providers through the process.
  • Offering free curricula and assessments.
  • Paying wage and retention bonuses for child care staff members.
  • Hosting workshops where providers can ask questions and receive guidance.
  • Creating a mentorship program where rated providers help guide programs that are not yet rated.

All Ohio families can search for child care providers by county, city, ZIP code, program type, and Step Up To Quality rating at ChildCareSearch.Ohio.gov.

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