Governor Strickland worked to provide services that support children growing up in safe, nurturing homes and communities, to expand access to health care, and to provide children a first class education. He understands that an investment in children is an investment in our future.
Expanded Health Care Access for Ohio’s Children. In 2007, Governor Strickland signed legislation to expand access to affordable health care for all Ohio children. The measures expanded eligibility for SCHIP and implemented a buy-in program so that parents of children not eligible for SCHIP could obtain health care at an affordable rate. Strickland won approval from the federal government to initiate these programs, but the resources to implement one portion that would have provided children’s health care for families between 200-300 percent of the poverty level were frozen in litigation until December 2010, when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the governor and legislature could utilize dollars previously earmarked for tobacco prevention to pay for children’s health care programs. [HB 119, 6/30/2007]
Made Ohio the First State to Join Campaign to Enroll Every SCHIP Eligible Child. In March 2010, Governor Strickland announced that Ohio would become the first state to join a federal campaign to enroll every SCHIP eligible child in the state. The push to enroll eligible but uninsured children is a challenge to the states from the Obama Administration with a goal of enrolling every uninsured, eligible child within five years. Strickland committed to the goal to enroll the 77,000 uninsured Ohio children that were eligible for SCHIP according to the 2008 Family Health Survey. [Columbus Dispatch, 3/12/2010] Since the FHS was completed, the economic downturn has resulted in more Ohioans being eligible for Medicaid. On 12/27/2010 CMS announced that Ohio’s overall Medicaid enrollment of children increased by 92,503, or 9 percent above the 2010 baseline. Ohio will receive a bonus of $12,376,346.
Expanded Medicaid Access to Former Foster Children. In 2007, Governor Strickland signed legislation that made young adults under the age of 21 who have aged out of foster care eligible to enroll in Medicaid. From January 2008 through November 2010, 337 young adults were directly enrolled in this expansion group. Many other young adults aged out of foster care who could have qualified for this program were instead found eligible for and enrolled in other Medicaid programs. [HB 119, 6/30/2007; Ohio Department of Insurance]
Combated Childhood Obesity. In 2007, Governor Strickland directed the Ohio Department of Health to develop a statewide Obesity Prevention Plan and, in 2008, First Lady Frances Strickland co-chaired a Childhood Obesity Forum to call attention to the issue. Since 2008, $1.7 million in state grant funds have been given to 13 local communities to support obesity prevention activities throughout the state. From January 2007 until December 2010, $7.5 million in federal funds has been directed towards preventing heart and other chronic diseases with a high priority on nutrition and obesity prevention. In 2010, Governor Strickland signed SB 210, which requires schools to provide healthier food options. [HB 119, June 30, 2007, Ohio Department of Health, SB 210]
Provided Mental Health Services to Children. Governor Strickland worked with Ohio’s children’s hospitals to establish a psychiatrist at each, providing consultation to primary care physicians in underserved areas of the state. Strickland continued to support the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program, which identifies and addresses early childhood behavioral health needs. In FY 10, more than 26,000 children received consultative services on an individual basis or in a group setting. [HB 119, 6/30/2007; HB 1, 7/17/2009; Ohio Department of Mental Health]
Establishment of the BEACON Council to encourage and support the public-private partnership for quality improvement innovations in children’s health in Ohio. BEACON (Best Evidence for Advancing Childhealth in Ohio Now) Ohio is unique in the nation with this innovative public private partnership, developing targeted initiatives to improve children’s health outcomes. Collaboration among pediatric providers, state agencies and children’s advocacy organizations has a shared goal of significantly and measurably improving care and outcomes for children in Ohio. Current initiatives include: obesity; reducing preterm births; improving care in NICUs; statewide training for pediatricians on screening for developmental issues, including autism; providing a statewide consultation network with psychiatrists though the children’s hospitals and development of quality measures and health information technology innovations.
Invested in High Quality Early Learning for All Ohio’s Children. Governor Strickland invested more than $25 million each biennium to support the statewide implementation of Step Up to Quality Star Rated Programs for young children. Step Up to Quality is a quality rating and improvement system that recognizes child care providers that maintain high quality programs. At the end of 2010, 80,000 children were being served in 1,063 Star Rated Early Care and Education Programs, an increase of over 300 percent since the Governor took office. In addition, Governor Strickland expanded access to public preschool in FY 2008 and 2009 and maintained the FY 2007 levels despite difficult economic times for FY 2010 and 2011. [ODJFS, HB 119, HB 1]
Supported Increases in High Quality Early Childhood Programs. Re-designed Ohio’s home visiting program, Help Me Grow, by developing statewide standards grounded in research, evidence-based practices and improved outcomes. Due to the increased GRF provided in HB 1, this higher quality, more intensive program for pregnant women and first-time mothers is slated to become a Medicaid eligible service early in FY 12. [HB 119, HB 1, Ohio Department of Health]
Increased Focus on Early Childhood Programs. Governor Strickland created the Early Childhood Cabinet in March 2007. This group brought key cabinet agencies together to set and coordinate policies and programs that serve Ohio children, prenatal to age six. In 2008, Governor Strickland created the Early Childhood Advisory Committee to provide recommendations and further inform policy decisions for the early learning system. This group received a Health and Human Services grant of $3.6 million to support work in the early childhood system over the next three years. [Executive Order 04S, 3/19/07; HB 1, 7/17/2009]
Created the Center for Early Childhood Development. Governor Strickland created, and the legislature approved, the formation of the Center for Early Childhood Development (CECD). The Center will provide a new administrative structure for all early childhood programs in Ohio. [HB 1, 7/17/2009, P-20 Analysis]
First Lady Chaired Ohio’s Family and Children First Council. Chaired by First Lady Frances Strickland, the local Family and Children First Councils enhanced the wellbeing of Ohio’s children and families by building community capacity, coordinating systems and services, and engaging and empowering families. Under the First Lady’s leadership, the Ohio Family and Children First Council worked to maximize resources. [OFCF Cabinet Councils SFY 10-11 Strategic Plan]
Created the Most Comprehensive Education Reform in Ohio’s History. In 2009, Governor Strickland created the most comprehensive education reform in Ohio history to prepare Ohio’s children for the 21st global environment. Ohio was awarded the 2010 Frank Newman Award for State Innovation by the Education Commission of the States. [HB 1, 7/17/2009; Education Commission of the States]
Increased Foodbank Funding and Invested in Feed Ohio. Governor Strickland increased investments in the state’s foodbank network. Due to his leadership, the state invested $12 million a year in the state’s foodbank network–an increase of $3.5 million a year–to help the neediest Ohio families.
Decreased Childhood Hunger and Food Insecurity. The Governor increased the number of Summer Food Service Program sites in the state. Through the Feed Ohio and Summer Learning Initiative grant programs, vulnerable school-age youth received nutritious meals and educational programming. During the summer of 2010, 49 new or expanded sites were funded in 25 communities. These sites provided 53,016 meals for an estimated 7,908 children. [HB 1, 7/17/2009, Governor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives]
Expanded The Ohio Benefit Bank to Provide Assistance to Low Income Families. Through his office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Governor Strickland significantly expanded the Ohio Benefit Bank. This program helps connect low-income families to the supports the need in their communities. More than 5,198 volunteer counselors have helped Ohioans gain access to more than $339 million in tax credits and other supportive programs for which they are eligible. There are 1,216 Benefit Bank sites in 88 counties helping families access food stamps, Medicaid, Home Energy Assistance Programs (HEAP), Senior Programs, and tax credits. [Ohio Governor's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives; HB 119, 6/30/2007]
Reduced the Number of Youth in the Juvenile Justice System. Strickland reduced entry into the juvenile justice system by expanding the Targeted RECLAIM program, which provides additional funding to counties that are sending the most youth to the system. Funds are used to responsibly divert youth from the juvenile justice system. In the first nine months, the six largest counties have reduced their admissions to the Department of Youth Services by 42 percent. The Behavioral Health Juvenile Justice Program was also expanded to provide services to serious juvenile offenders with serious behavioral healthcare needs. [HB. 1, 7/17/2007; Ohio Department of Youth Services; Ohio Department of Mental Health]
Reduced the Number of Out of Home Placements in the Child Welfare System. With foundation support, worked with federal government and local partners to provide supports to children and their families in the child welfare system, allowing them to remain in safe, stable homes and reduced out of home placements by 22.7 percent. From January 2007 to November 2010, the number of children in foster care decreased by 3,516. [ODJFS]
Promoting Safety, Permanency, and the Well-being of Children. Protect Ohio, the Ohio Summit on Children, Alternative/Differential Response, and System of Care are just a few examples of Governor Strickland’s commitment to provide a more flexible, effective, and family-centered approach to Ohio’s child welfare system. These initiatives leverage federal and local dollars to address the multi-system needs of families to protect children, prevent unnecessary removals of children from their homes, and increase the permanency rates for children in out-of-home placements. [ODJFS]