The 2018-2019 state budget was challenging from the start, and became even more challenging as state revenues came in nearly $1 billion below previous projections while the budget was being debated in the House and Senate. Most programs across every state department were reduced to make up for this shortfall, including early care and education.
In the final budget, early learning received an $11.1 million dollar reduction out of a roughly $700 million total early education budget. These reductions were taken from both the child care and Early Childhood Education programs. How these cuts will be absorbed is not yet known.
PRE4CLE and our partners did achieve a budget victory despite these funding cuts, securing an amendment that allows 3-year-olds to once again participate in Ohio’s Early Childhood Education preschool program. The amendment came with a provision that providers can only enroll 3-year-olds after October 1 of each year to allow continued prioritization of 4-year-olds and that programs need to seek permission from the Ohio Department of Education to serve 3-year-olds. Implementation details on this change are expected to be released very soon.
PRE4CLE is continuing to work with partners in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, and across the state to raise awareness and support for quality early learning. In the coming year, our focus will shift to securing the supports necessary to help Ohio meet its Step Up to Quality rating goal of all state-funded programs reaching high-quality by 2025. If you want more information on our advocacy activities or want to sign up to receive advocacy alerts, please go to www.pre4cle.org/get-involved.