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Franklin County Job and Family Services, Action For Children and Future Ready Columbus To Offer New Resources For Child Care Providers

March 10, 2020

Columbus, OH – Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services (FCDJFS) is teaming up with Action For Children and Future Ready Columbus to help increase high-quality, star-rated child care options for families.

Earlier this year, FCDJFS was awarded a $1.35 million grant by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in order to support the county’s efforts in engaging child care providers to meet the state Step Up To Quality (SUTQ) requirements. The Franklin County Commissioners today voted to approve a pair of FCDJFS agreements with Action for Children and Future Ready to help Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) providers improve, build capacity and earn a SUTQ star rating by the July 1, 2020 deadline.  

The grant funding will allow FCDJFS and its partners to provide a range of services addressing early childhood workforce recruitment and retention, SUTQ training, technical assistance and equipment needs such as staff support. Services will be provided to both rated and unrated child care centers serving infant, toddler, preschool and school-age children with several service components specifically aimed at increasing PFCC capacity for infants and toddlers.

“When the majority of children being served by unrated providers are children of color living in some of the lowest asset neighborhoods, that’s something I take personally.” FCDJFS Director Joy Bivens said. “We believe in Step Up To Quality and we are grateful for the opportunity to ramp up our efforts to make sure child care providers across our county have the support they need to earn their star. We owe it to them and we owe it to the thousands of working families who rely on Publicly Funded Child Care.”

FCDJFS, along with Action for Children and Future Ready, will use the grant to implement several strategies to engage unrated PFCC providers. Those strategies include increasing the number of star-rated child care centers and family providers in Franklin County, in addition to increasing the number of newly star-rated providers that have signed PFCC agreements with ODJFS by June 30.

In addition to continuing to provide free training, this grant will allow FCDJFS to focus its efforts on research, bridging communication gaps with SUTQ training curriculum, implementing a multimedia awareness campaign and providing community outreach and parent engagement, in partnership with the National Center for Urban Solutions.

Other strategies to be implemented with this grant will support professional development training and technical assistance for all Franklin County child care centers and family providers, both rated and unrated.

Action For Children, whose mission is to transform the lives of children by supporting, empowering and advocating for adults who make the biggest impact on children’s lives, will take the lead child care provider recruitment and retention. They will also provide pre-licensing training, assist in obtaining Childcare Development Associate credentials and administer an Early Care and Education Resource Bank to help providers obtain a variety of needed materials to improve quality learning environments.

“It’s crucial that child care professionals have what they need in order to succeed, whether that’s high-quality training or proper equipment,” said Eric Karolak, the CEO for Action For Children. “We will be able to help providers assess program readiness, determine action plans, offer in-person work sessions and provide a variety of other material that in turn will improve the learning environment for the children of Franklin County.”

Future Ready Columbus will also work alongside FCDJFS and Action For Children on barrier removal services to targeted child care providers with the ability to increase capacity to serve PFCC children. Future Ready will help cover the cost for PFCC providers in the neighborhoods with the greatest need to expand and add new infant-toddler and pre-school classrooms, including limited-time assistance with teacher salaries. Additionally, they will provide access to Conscious Discipline training, in-classroom coaching support, parent engagement resources and much more.  

“High quality childcare settings and teachers are critical to kindergarten readiness for all children. These grant funds will help create more high-quality classrooms for publicly funded childcare by providing incentives to providers with and without a current PFCC agreement,” Future Ready Columbus Executive Director Jane Leach said. “We will help with the recruitment and retention efforts of these child care providers and assist them in setting up high-quality classrooms. We value the support of the Board of Commissioners and are excited to have this grant in order to strengthen investments in the lives of our youngest residents.” 

A star rating is a sign that a provider offers a safe, caring, nurturing environment for children and has staff that are qualified to help children develop verbal and social skills to learn and grow. Ohio requires that all licensed child care providers must receive a star rating by July 1, 2020 in order to continue participating in PFCC and receive state subsidies.

To learn more about Step Up To Quality and the resources available to parents and child care providers in Franklin County, visit www.StepUp2StarRating.com. Visit www.ActionForChildren.org/SUTQ and www.FutureReadyColumbus.org and for additional information and resources. 

The Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services provides timely public assistance benefits and builds community partnership through inclusion, responsiveness and innovation. Learn more at https://jfs.franklincountyohio.gov and follow FCDJFS on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.