Senate Democrats Call For Restoring Head Start Funds
Recent change undermines commitment to combatting child poverty

Columbus – Today, State Senator Michael J. Skindell (D-Lakewood) announced that all the members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus have signed a letter calling on the Kasich administration to restore funding to the Head Start program.  A recent rule change could cut $12 million from the program.

The letter, sent to Cynthia Dungey the Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, states the following:

Dear Director Dungey,
On behalf of the undersigned members of the Ohio Senate, we are writing to you today to encourage and urge you to direct the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) to allow federal Head Start dollars to be layered with state child care dollars to support Ohio’s commitment to ensuring that our youngest citizens and future workforce members continue to receive the high-quality early-learning services they need and deserve.
For decades, Ohio’s Head Start and child care providers have been able to offer families high-quality programs because they “layer” state funds on top of federal Head Start funds. This practice offers a way to effectively leverage state and federal funds to increase early learning program quality.  Fewer than a dozen states across the country prohibit this approach.
On June 6, 2016, the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) approved a rule change recommended by your agency to Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 5101:2-16-41 (E), which  authorizes state payment rates to child-care providers, that effectively prohibits the practice of layering services.
The Ohio General Assembly, with the leadership and support of your agency, has worked to increase our commitment to supporting the state’s early childhood system. This rule change will undermine the commitment we have all made to combatting child poverty and supporting our most at-risk children.
We have heard some concern that the practice of layering funds is “duplicative” and therefore not in the best interest of the state. This concern could not be more inaccurate. The practice of layering funds, by definition, prevents funds from being used for the same services and ensures that dollars from multiple sources are leveraged to enhance program quality. These enriched services include providing health and nutritional services, curriculum supports, teacher education, and reducing class sizes for our early learning programs that serve our most vulnerable young children.  All of these services support Ohio’s effort to increase quality opportunities for kids. 
To reiterate, these funding sources are not paying for the same services at the same time; rather, they are ensuring that providers can take their care and educational offerings to a higher level of quality.
This change will move our state and local communities in the wrong direction at a time when we are seeing tremendous local investment to ensure that our children start kindergarten ready to learn.
Thank you for considering our concerns related to this critical issue. We look forward to partnering with you in any way we can to ensure that this rule change is reversed and that Ohio’s children continue to have access to high-quality programs that support their growth and development. 

Sincerely yours,

All the members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus

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