Wednesday, June 16, 1999

Child-care ideas span the state

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Efforts from Cincinnati to Cuyahoga County are under way to find solutions for the crisis in child care.

        Cincinnati City Councilman Charlie Winburn announced last week a plan that would allow families to deduct up to $5,000 per child in day care from their earnings when paying the city's 2.1 percent earings tax. Parents making $35,000 a year with two children in day care would save $210.

        At the state level, 66,000 Ohio children benefit from state-subsidized child care. Pending legislation would push that up to 85,000 by June 2001. Another bill calls for raising the eligibility level from 185 percent of the poverty level — $25,678 a year for a family of three — to twice the poverty level, or $27,760.

        The eligibility for assistance has been steadily rising since October 1997, when it was 105 percent of the poverty level.

        But one of the most innovative changes watched by local child-care experts is a grass-roots project under way in Cuyahoga County.

        Announced in March by the Board of Cuyahoga County Commissioners, a coalition of private and public agencies led by the commission and the nonprofit Cleveland Foundation will carve out four regions for home child-care networks. In each region, experts will recruit, train and work to retain home child-care providers.

        The goal is to set up 1,025 new certified family child-care homes by next year.

        The group will provide business and child-care education, equipment through grants or private funding, and technical assistance in caring for children with special needs.

        “My whole thrust is how critical it is for the entire community to come together on this whole issue — the private sector, employers and the public sector,” said Billie Osborne-Fears, executive director of Starting Point, a nonprofit referral and research agency serving northeast Ohio.


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