Maintaining Progress for UPK Success
By: Armond Budish, County Executive
It’s no secret that I believe high-quality childhood education is key to Cuyahoga County’s success. As we look ahead to shaping a better future for all of our residents and creating opportunities so that we can all thrive; we have to start with our youngest.
That’s why in 2015 even as we faced budgetary challenges, we put in an additional $10M into our high-quality Pre-K funding. Then, along with public and private funders, we were able to raise another $12M. This is a monumental and transformative initiative because it showed the power of government working closely with philanthropic and private funders to achieve important changes.
We’ve been working diligently for years to create a high quality, affordable child care system in Cuyahoga County through our agency Invest in Children. Millions of dollars have been invested in this effort and have reaped significant results, including the creation of our nationally acclaimed Universal Prekindergarten Program which has set over 10,000 children on a path to success in school and in life.
But success like this and doubling down on a program that we know is effective and life-changing is being made much more difficult by the Ohio State Government’s decision to alter their funding to our high-quality Pre-k centers.
This decision, set to take effect in September, will adversely affect our significant local investment by reducing other resources to UPK providers. This decision specifically impacts the quality of care provided to the children of the working poor who qualify for both Head Start and publicly funded child care. We estimate that locally over 1000 children will be affected by this change, and the loss of dollars may be as high as $2 million. This harms our kids and takes us in the wrong direction.
A core tenet of our program and its success is making sure our children attend high-quality
centers. We are not talking about babysitting services but about programs that focus on the physical, educational and social health of our children.
The high-quality providers tell us the following are highly probable impacts of the funding changes:
- increased adult/child ratios
- less ability to attract highly qualified teachers
- fewer hours of operation
- no health screening services
If the education of all of our children is as important to you as it is to me, I urge you to reach out to Governor Kasich and express your support for the children of Cuyahoga County. Call the Governor’s office at (614) 466-3555 or send him a message at http://governor.ohio.gov/Contact/ContacttheGovernor.aspx, and ask him to maintain, and even increase, funding for high quality pre-k programs.