DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) -Despite being permitted by the state to increase room sizes to pre-pandemic capacities, many daycares are struggling with making the decision.
Although the order allowed for the increase on Monday, late Friday night is when the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services released information about Ratio Support Payments.
According to ODJFS, if daycare and childcare providers decide to maintain smaller class size ratios for August and September, they will be eligible for the ratio support payments. These grants are determined by the facilities’ star rating and number of children served.
According to the release from ODJFS, a new application must be completed and submitted between August 25 and September 4. The payments will be processed after proper documentation is submitted the week of September 21. These plans are still pending approval from the Ohio General Assembly at the time of this article’s publication, but ODJFS expects to have full confirmation and details online in a matter of hours.
The grant funding ranges from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars based on the criteria. Despite this promise of funding help, some daycare facilities are hoping to serve their families that have been in need of childcare for months during the pandemic.
“Our childcare providers have had to turn people away because they weren’t able to go to their normal classroom size. So this allows if they have a waiting list or they have demand from families this allows them to open back up and serve more families,” explained Robyn Lightcap, executive director of Preschool Promise. “I’m sure many of our childcare providers were working over the weekend to figure out what’s going to make the most sense for them and for their families to make sure they’re keeping children and family and teachers safe.”
Regardless of room ratio size, all facilities will be required to maintain strict health and safety guidelines and constantly monitor for COVID symptoms. ODJFS will also evaluate a random sample of facilities in the state to make sure they are complying with the room ratio size guidelines.
They’ve also included guidance for at-home daycare centers and in-home aides as well.
Child care experts say while the decision remains tough for all involved, it is most important that children have a safe and healthy learning environment
“The early learning years are so critical whether its COVID or not and we cant forget that we have to help our children process the social emotional learning that happen in those years from birth to 5 are just critically important,” said Lightcap.