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Ohio's 'Step Up To Quality' Child Care Program Makes Improvements

Amy McCoy serves lunch to preschoolers at her Forever Young Daycare facility, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
Elaine Thompson
Child care centers once operated under the promise that they would always be there when parents have to work. Now, each teacher resignation, coronavirus exposure, and daycare center closure reveal an industry on the brink, with wide-reaching implications for an entire economy's workforce.

Ohio is making changes to a child care program that was designed to increase quality but has been criticized for being so bureaucratic that some providers say they won’t participate in it.

The 'Step Up to Quality' program was created to increase the accountability of childcare programs that get state assistance. Now Ohio Department of Job and Services (ODJFS) Director Matt Damshroder said the program has made changes.

Damschroder said there’s now less paperwork and providers will no longer have to reapply each year.

Damshroder said ODJFS is, “maintaining quality program for Ohio’s youngest kids who are in child care and then also making it possible for more people to enter that service space.”

When Governor DeWine signed a COVID spending bill last year, he vetoed a line that would have eliminated the program. Many Republican lawmakers said the program was too bureaucratic.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.