Franklin County Helps Childcare Providers Step Up To Quality

Joy Bivens

Franklin County Helps Childcare Providers Step Up To Quality 

Franklin County is investing more than $1 million to help childcare providers become or stay star rated through Ohio’s Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) and increase parents’ awareness of the program. Why? By July 2020 the State of Ohio will require all childcare providers who receive public dollars to be star rated through SUTQ or lose that funding.

A star rating is important because it is a sign that a provider offers a safe, caring, nurturing environment for children and has staff that are qualified to help them develop verbal and social skills to learn and grow—not only for today but also for their future.

“This issue is critical for providers and parents. Parents know that a provider with a star rating is held to the highest quality standards,” says Joy Bivens, director of Franklin County Job and Family Services. “We all win when children receive high-quality early learning.”

Right now, there more than 700 childcare providers in Franklin County receive Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) payments, but only about 24% are star rated. This means that if the 2020 mandate went in place today, approximately 23,000 children would need new childcare providers—and more than 10,000 working parents would need to drop everything to find a star-rated provider to care for them.

The economic impacts of the mandate reach further than that. Many home- and center-based childcare operators are small business owners, who would struggle to support their own families— let alone hire and retain staff—if they are barred from accepting children covered by PFCC. So, the 2020 SUTQ deadline is not just an early childhood education issue—it’s a workforce issue.

Franklin County Commissioners Kevin Boyce, Marilyn Brown and John O’Grady recognized the issues and took action. They instructed the Department of Job and Family Services, under the leadership of Director Bivens, to develop a multi-pronged strategy – from in-depth data analysis to focus groups with parents and providers – to ensure all home and center-based childcare providers are star rated by the 2020 deadline.

“Although we know the importance of high-quality childcare, many of Franklin County’s families still do not have access to it,” says Bivens. “Most children are within one quarter of a mile of a childcare center accepting Publicly Funded Child Care, but most of those are not star rated. African-American children who live in Linden and East Columbus are significantly less likely to receive care from a star rated provider.”

While all childcare providers want the best for their children, they don’t all know how to attain a star rating. As a result, Franklin County is the first county in the state to offer free training to help center- or home-based providers become or stay star rated. Providers can earn up to 32 hours of free Ohio Approved Professional Development.

For more information about the training or how your organization can help this effort go to www.StepUp2StarRating.com.

FCDJFS is a county, state and federal-supported agency responsible for basic financial, medical and social service programs. These programs are made available to ensure that no one is forced to go without the basic essentials of food, clothing, shelter, medical care and necessary life sustaining services because of a lack of resources. For more information, visit http://JFS.FranklinCountyOhio.gov, follow @FranklinCoJFS on Twitter and like FCDJFS on Facebook

Published in OhioMBE – August, 15, 2018 – pdf