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Child care advocates praise DeWine's proposed vouchers but say more needs to be done

Aleksander Krsmanovic,

Gov. Mike DeWine said he wants to expand eligibility for vouchers for state-funded child care. During his State of the State speech, DeWine proposed childcare vouchers for families that earn up to 200% of the federal poverty level. That means a family of four could earn as much as $60,000 annually and qualify for childcare vouchers.

Advocates for childcare programs said they think that's a good start.

Lynanne Gutierrez, president of Groundwork Ohio, said she likes DeWine’s idea of expanding access to childcare to bring in 8,000 more kids.

“We are currently the lowest eligibility in the country so making this mid-biennium commitment to a voucher program that serves families between 145% to 200% is the next step," Gutierrez said.

But at an Ohio Chamber of Commerce event this week, Gutierrez explained there simply isn't enough affordable childcare available. And she said there likely won’t be until government and businesses come together to make child care sustainable.

Panelists at the Chamber event said preschool education needs to be handled more like K-12 education instead of the current model. The advocates for child care noted teachers in K-12 schools generally earn much more than teachers in preschools. And without a steady revenue stream, child care experts said there isn't a good way to sustain the costs associated with providing services.

Majority Republicans in the legislature said they liked DeWine's emphasis on providing more child care to Ohio families. However, they said they’re cautious about the spending involved in the plan.

Democrats said they liked the idea of making more child care available to more families, while adding they'd like to see more done to address the needs of childcare providers as well. When asked about the cost of expanding childcare services, some pointed out that some Republicans raising that concern voted to give $1 billion in last year's budget to parents to help their kids attend private K-12 schools.
Copyright 2024 The Statehouse News Bureau.