With only about a year left for childcare centers to begin the process of meeting the state’s new star rating standards, Franklin County has made great strides in helping providers prepare for the regulations. Though county officials continue to raise awareness, they are asking for the public’s help.
Franklin County Department of Job & Family Services (FCDJFS) worked throughout 2018 to increase awareness about the importance of quality early learning and the County’s 32 hours of free training to help fulfill the state’s Step Up to Quality (SUTQ) requirements. Childcare providers whose clients receive Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) must meet these requirements by July 2020. However, the county must consider that the process to earn that state certification often takes three to six months.
That effectively means childcare providers have about a year to begin this process or they could be forced to close – and some working parents would be without childcare. Franklin County has led the state in providing outreach and training and has achieved many outcomes including:
- Registered and/or trained more than 180 child care providers that serve over 10,300 children.
- Raising SUTQ awareness by 13 points, from 20% to 33% since July 2017.
- Increasing an understanding of the need; 31% of survey participants had a favorable view of SUTQ, up from 18% in July 2017.
- Awareness of a five-star rating system for child care went up 16 points, from 33% to 49% since July 2017.
- In 2017, 51% of respondents ranked a SUTQ rating as being an important factor in their childcare choice, while in 2018, 59% of respondents did, an increase of eight points.
Franklin County will continue to focus efforts in 2019 to help providers and parents prepare for these requirements, but county officials are also asking for the public’s help in raising awareness so that the necessity of action is realized.
Back in June 2018, Franklin County Job & Family Services launched its comprehensive training series to help home and center based childcare providers meet Ohio’s 2020 SUTQ requirement. The training is available in person or online.
In 2018, we determined that if the 2020 mandate were in place today, nearly 23,000 children would not have access to quality early learning, 10,000 parents and caregivers would need to find other places for care and dozens of childcare providers would be at risk of closing their doors. State data makes it difficult to continue to track that number in real time, however we know about 75 percent of PFCC providers in Franklin County are not yet rated.
“We are committed to success for children, parents, and child care providers across Franklin County,” said Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown. “These trainings ensure that more children can have the opportunity to benefit from safe, nurturing, and high-quality child care while their parents are working and continuing their educations. We are raising the bar on the early learning offered to these families through our partnership with child care providers.
Whether a provider is becoming star rated for the first time or working to maintain their star rating, we know that child care providers are small business engines in our communities, and our partnership is helping them to continue growing and thriving for the long term.”
Trainings have allowed providers who want to become or stay star-rated to earn up to 32 hours of Ohio Approved Professional Development through a robust curriculum. The trainings cover all major requirements of SUTQ, but ultimate approval is determined by the State of Ohio. Building upon the success of 2018, FCDJFS will expand training offerings FCDJFS Opportunity Centers and will continue awareness building with stakeholders, childcare providers and the general public.
“We are motivated by our success in 2018, but there is still work to be done,” said FCDJFS Director Joy Bivens. “While we do not have the authority to approve their SUTQ application, this training will continue to help childcare providers so they can implement the standards and submit the appropriate documentation to the state. We know the star-rating process can be intimidating, daunting in fact. We are here to continue to help so providers can become star rated, which ultimately will positively impact the children they serve and their working parents. And that is what this effort is all about.”
MeeMaws House Director Linda Page reinforced the value of the curriculum and the excitement around potentially becoming star rated.
“The training was extremely helpful and allowed me to understand exactly what needed to be done to get ready for my star rating,” said Linda Page, MeeMaws House, a center-based provider. She went completed the FCDJFS training and is having another employee complete it before they apply to the state for their star. “I already knew our center was high quality but hopefully, with a star rating, we can finally show it.”
For more information about Franklin County’s SUTQ Training please visit www.StepUp2StarRating.com.