Ohio Education Bill a Lot More than Third Grade Reading Guarantee
Ohio has a major new education law, Senate Bill 316, signed by Governor Kasich on June 25 in Cincinnati. Included in the bill is a “third grade reading guarantee,” which mandates that third-graders must pass a proficiency test in order to be promoted to the fourth grade.
But the two “big deals” in the bill as far as I am concerned impact younger children and their families. First is licensing of family child care providers. Finally, after nearly two decades of effort, home-based child care businesses, known as “family child care providers,” will be licensed in Ohio. Ohio has been only one of five states in the nation that does not license this form of child care. Until now!
Effective January 1, 2014, every provider who has a contract to serve children from low-income families will automatically become licensed. This will be mandatory for everyone who provides subsidized child care in their homes, and optional for those who do not accept the subsidy. This is less than the ideal, as all children in child care deserve protection, but it is a very important start. For one thing, it makes all licensed child care providers eligible for Step Up to Quality (SUTQ), Ohio’s quality rating and improvement system. SUTQ provides an excellent tool for parents so that they can distinguish among the levels of quality care.
The other big “win” in Senate Bill 316 is the requirement that child care and early childhood education programs achieve a quality rating by 2020 in order to receive any state funding. Thus, programs in schools, programs serving children with disabilities and those centers or family child care homes accessing the child care subsidy system must achieve a level of quality if our tax dollars are to help cover the costs. We expect that many more programs will “reach for the stars,” and while some may go out of business if they cannot reach the required quality rating, it is important that all programs for young children contribute to their well-being and school readiness. Currently around 1100 Ohio programs are rated, only 25 percent of those eligible! Look forward to that number doubling over the next few years. I know we are.
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