COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine is laying out a new initiative that he said will make Ohio “the best place in the nation” to have a baby and raise a family. His plan includes eighteen sections, focusing on helping mothers during and after pregnancy.
“It sounds good,” Representative Catherine Ingram (D-Cincinnati) said. “It’s about time.”
“I certainly appreciate the thoughts of doing what we can as a state to help Ohio families,” Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) said.
It’s called the “Bold Beginning” initiative, and DeWine said it will remove barriers to healthcare, ease financial burdens and support parents. The plan would also push the effort to eliminate state and local taxes on baby supplies and help struggling mother secure housing.
Representatives Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) and Ingram said while they are happy with the step forward, there are some additions they’d like to see.
“It is a step in the right direction if we’re making sure it’s getting done,” Ingram said. “I would love to see this work, what he’s got here. I’d make sure kinship care is included, it’s not there as fully as it should be.”
“It doesn’t seem to address the issue of Black infant mortality and maternal health disparities,” Russo said. “We know that Black and Brown babies and mothers in this state are at risk of dying two to three times more.”
The plan also focusses on foster care and adoption.
“The bottom line is this: children living in poverty and family instability experience many types of stress and adverse childhood experiences that can impact their lifelong success,” DeWine said in a statement.
“I understand the importance of helping families and how impactful it can be to give kids and strong and healthy start,” Gavarone said.
Gavarone said she is introducing a bill that supports this plan early next week. While Ingram said while she is pleased with the initiative, she is worried about the implementation.
“My fear is that you’ve got your hands behind your back with your fingers crossed,” Ingram said. “And that’s not fair to the people.”
For much of this plan to be implemented, money will have to be allocated through next year’s budget.
Learn more about the Bold Beginning initiative here.