Child care: Kasich asks people to give up a little
Posted on 4.12.11
By MARC KOVAC
Dix Capital Bureau
COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich marched a few exercise steps with the preschool set during a stop at a central Ohio child care center Monday.
The governor also talked to a few of the youngsters, helped one up and down from a climbing wall and played upsy-daisy with another.
The Columbus YMCA facility offers programming for all types of children, including many with developmental disabilities and/or from low-income households.
The state provides subsidies to cover the costs of about half of the children enrolled, said Ben Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Kasich used the stop Monday to tout his $55.5 billion biennial budget proposal, which includes a 7 percent decrease in child care provider reimbursements from the state and a decrease in eligibility for new families wanting to receive child care assistance to 125 percent of the federal poverty level from 150 percent. Existing families would continue to be served under the latter level.
The changes have prompted concern among some child care providers.
"We very much appreciate the ability to keep kids on current eligibility level in quality programs," Todd Tibbits, chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater Toledo, said in testimony before a House subcommittee earlier this month. "Yet the proposed cuts still would have impacts. In Toledo, those cuts would translate to losing seven centers, five of which are school-age and two early childhood. In total, we would be losing the ability to serve 378 kids. We would also have to lay off three full-time and 12 part-time employees."
But ODJFS Director Michael Colbert said the changes are needed to deal with a decrease of more than $100 million in federal funding.
The state serves about 105,000 youngsters through the child care subsidies, with that number decreasing to about 104,000 in the next fiscal year.
But all existing families, including all of the youngsters at the Columbus center and others statewide, will have access to subsidized child care.
"We decided early on that child care was critical," Kasich said of his budget proposal. "It's critical to moms and dads. It's critical for moms who have dads who ran out on them... We want moms to be able to work, and we've got a situation here where's it's safe, they're learning, it's great education."
He added, "Nobody as a result of what we've done in the budget is being dropped from the rolls. They'll all continue to be able to get child care, which means we have to set priorities. And for the people that can give a little bit up, that's what we're asking them to do. ..."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.
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