Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Governor Strickland, it didn't have to be this way.

That should be the theme of a number of ads nailing Ohio's Governor in the heat of election season next fall.

Each ad focuses on cuts to public libraries, gambling or....this.

The recently passed two year budget eliminates Ohio's Early Learning Initiative -- which impacts about 14,000 low-income at risk children.

At Kiddie Kampus in Bedford, 20 students are in the ELI program out of 75 children.

"It's going to hurt the center, we will have to look at staffing," says owner Dawn Smith.

This program is for children before they enter kindergarten starting at age 3.

Victoria Johnson sends her 3-year-old son to the program, and says ELI has helped him with his verbal skills and literacy.

"This hurts, I don't think we'll find a quality program like this," says Johnson.

Governor Strickland's office hopes that children who are no longer able to go to ELI will be absorbed by Headstart programs or qualify for county vouchers for subsidized childcare. But there are now tighter requirements for vouchers, so many families won't qualify. Also, Headstart programs may not have openings.

"I worry about the children possibly being left home alone when parents have to go to work or them going hungry," says Johnson.

"I wish there had been a plan B."
Ouch. Tugs at the heartstrings, eh?

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