TOLEDO, OH – Community leaders met at The Catholic Club, one of eight centers in Lucas and Wood counties that will be prohibited from receiving both state child care funds and federal Head Start dollars to support high quality, comprehensive care for infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
Head Start funds come directly to communities from the federal government and are used to enhance the services that children and their families receive at local child care centers. “At a time when our community is working diligently through Aspire to ensure that all children are ready to learn when they get to kindergarten, Ohio is taking a huge step backward,” said Tina Skeldon-Wozniak, President of the Board of Lucas County Commissioners. Both state and federal funds are needed to pay for the full cost of quality services and to achieve school readiness goals.
“We are simply asking Governor Kasich to stop this rule and ensure services continue for our youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” stated Toledo Public School Board member, Polly Taylor-Gerken.
Toledo Public Schools, WSOS Community Action, and Lucas County Family Council administer the Head Start programs that will be impacted by this rule. “Our organizations work together to serve 379 children and their parents who are working or in school. These families will lose services and child care centers will lose tens of thousands of dollars when this rule goes into effect,” stated Kristi Hannan, Associate Director of Early Childhood for Lucas County Family Council, which provides Early Head Start for children under three.
Paul Szymanski, Executive Director of the Catholic Club, said the impact on his organization will be devastating. Catholic Club provides both Early Head Start and Head Start, along with child care, parenting, and recreation programs. “We could lose over $200,000 if we have to go back to using only child care subsidy funds. We won’t be able to afford to meet Head Start standards in our classrooms, so quality will go down. In the end, it’s our children and families who will suffer,” Szymanski stated.
At issue is a rule announced June 6 that prohibits child care centers from using other funds if they receive state child care subsidies. The rule was to go into effect June 26, but the state extended the timeline to September 3 to allow agencies time to prepare for the change.
The Office of Head Start issued new grant opportunities in April and June to expand the number of full day Head Start programs and Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships. Representative Teresa Fedor urged Head Start organizations to apply for the grants while legislators work to reverse the rule.