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Future Ready Columbus, Franklin County JFS Announce Grants To Expand Child Care Classrooms

Columbus, OH – As child care providers are beginning to reopen across the state, Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services and Future Ready Columbus are taking action to help expand Publicly Funded Child Care capacity. The organizations today announced that they will be awarding a combined $360,000 in grant funding to eight Franklin County child care centers with existing PFCC agreements to add classrooms for infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children. 

The grant recipients are: 

• Bloom Early Learning Education (184 E. Fifth Ave., 43215)
• Columbus Early Learning Centers – Eastside (240 N. Champion Ave., 43203)
• Little Disciples Learning Center (4099 Karl Road, 43224)
• Little Gems Learning Place, LLC. (2030 Leonard Ave., 43219)
• North Branch YMCA (1640 Sandalwood Place, 43229)
• Start Fresh Learning Academy (1149 Parsons Ave., 43206)
• Starting Point Learning Center, LLC. (2533 Lockbourne Rd., 43207)
• South Side Learning and Development Center (280 Reeb Ave., 43207)

Future Ready Columbus worked alongside FCDJFS to select the centers based on several factors including geographic location, Step Up To Quality rating and the number of new PFCC slots. 
 
All eight centers fall in high-priority ZIP codes where there are high numbers of children – the majority being children of color – who receive PFCC, but a relatively low number of child care providers, based on research conducted by FCDJFS. The selected centers currently serve more than 300 PFCC children, and with the grant awards they will be able to expand by an additional 88 slots, including 19 slots for infants, 12 slots for toddlers and 57 slots for preschool children.
 
“The funds these centers receive from the grant will help create high-quality classrooms for PFCC children,” Future Ready Columbus Executive Director Jane Leach said. “We want every child in Franklin County to have a safe, nurturing environment and to be kindergarten-ready upon school enrollment. We are fortunate to partners in the Franklin County Commissioners who prioritize investments in our youngest residents.”
 
These classroom expansion grants are the latest in a range of supportive service FCDJFS, Future Ready Columbus and Action For Children are providing for early learning program after receiving a combined $1.1 million grant from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services earlier this year. These Ohio Quality Infrastructure Grant funds are intended to address early childhood workforce recruitment and retention needs, increase access to SUTQ training and provide technical assistance and equipment needs such as staff support.
 
“African American children as well as other children of color and children from low-income families face real disparities when it comes to access to quality early learning. Without acting, this pandemic is only going to widen those gaps,” FCDJFS Director Joy Bivens said. “We’re taking an equity-based approach here to help uplift the our most vulnerable children, families and communities.”  
 
On top of the $1.1 million in Ohio Quality Infrastructure Grant funds, the Commissioners have committed more than $3 million since 2015 to help ensure Franklin County meets the challenge of the state’s SUTQ mandate. That legislative mandate requires all licensed child care providers to obtain SUTQ star rating by Sept. 1, 2020 in order to continue participating in PFCC and receive state subsidies. The original deadline of July 1, 2020 was postponed by the General Assembly in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. 
 
These efforts support the Commissioners’ Rise Together Blueprint, which calls for increasing the number of students at or near the poverty level experiencing academic success, and committing to expanding access to high-quality, star-rated early learning programs for low-income families. Currently, thousands of Franklin County residents rely on PFCC and would have to make other arrangements if their child care provider is not star-rated in time.
 
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.
 
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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 FacebookTwitter and YouTube.