COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A central Ohio group is calling on all dads to be engaged in their children’s development and early education.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution presented by Job and Family Services, the National Center for Urban Solutions and members of the African American Male Wellness Walk initiative. The group wore blue shirts with “I’m a proud dad” written on the front and “#CallingAllDads” on the back and many of the men were accompanied by their children.
“We’re calling on dads — especially African American dads — because of what the stats say,” explained Otis Jerome Bukner.
One of the statistics came from Job and Family Services: 73% of African American children in Franklin County are not considered “kindergarten ready.” The group says socioeconomic barriers contribute to the lack of preparation.
To address the issue, Job and Family Services is efforting the “Step Up to Quality” initiative. It encourages state licensed child care providers to become rated or improve the rating.
By July 1, 2020, all Ohio licensed child care programs that receive state funding must participate in Step Up To Quality to continue accepting Title XX funding. As of January, 86% of programs offering publicly funded child care services were quality rated.
“That star rating and those dollars that come with that star rating allow us to perform and provide and prepare the kids for the future,” said Bukner, an administrator for a new child care center in the Hilltop neighborhood.
Bukner and other advocates explained the benefits of a quality rating extend beyond funding. He said they also raise the standards of child care and improve the quality of early education, which in turn can ultimately lift a community out of poverty.
“We’re not here to see our kids fail. We’re here for the long-run,” he said.
Ohio families can search for child care providers by at ChildCareSearch.Ohio.gov.