Lawmakers, parents, daycares at odds over childcare grading system

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Posted at 6:43 AM, Jun 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-11 10:31:07-04

CINCINNATI — Some Ohio lawmakers want to get rid of the current childcare grading system, but some parents and daycares said they want to keep the system in place.

The Step Up To Quality program is the current grading system in Ohio for childcare. It rates childcare providers on a five-star system based on things like the education level of staff members and how much instruction time staff members give to children in their care. Each childcare provider must have at least one star, though; otherwise, they cannot operate.

"Just having that rating system, that really helped me make my decision, because I kind of had something to go off of,” Brittany Ollberding said. "Those years are so critical. Little kids are like sponges.”

Critics of the program said the paperwork it creates keeps some childcare providers out or can be discouraging to smaller childcare providers. Those critics said the system could cost Ohio as much as a billion dollars down the line.

"It’s either complex or we can’t do all of that, whether it’s the paperwork and the additional things we have to do, so we’re just going to shut down,” Ohio Sen. Matt Huffman said.

According to Huffman, the savings account that funds the program will be gone in three years, and when an additional incentive goes in place in 2025, the program will only cost more.

“These two problems combined add on close to a billion dollars in new funding from the general revenue account,” he said.

Huffman is proposing a system that would maintain the starred system, but childcare centers without any stars could accept children on public assistance.

Learning Grove COO Patti Gleason said the current system makes sure childcare centers across Ohio are performing well.

"We want all children to be able to access a quality early childhood education,” Gleason said.

She also said losing the funding for the program would come with its own price tag.

"If that would go away, we would have to shut programs down and certainly limit how many funded children we could possibly take in our program."