1999 ANNUAL REPORT
IMPROVING CHILD CARE
In October 1999, the Childrens Defense Fund played a significant
role in the creation of the Childcare
Staffing Crisis Task Force (CSCTF). The group, which operates under the umbrella of the Southwest
Ohio Childrens Coalition (SWOCC), includes representatives from education, business, and government.
The single most important factor of the quality of child care is the
presence of consistent, well-trained,
and well-compensated caregivers.
Child care programs throughout the region are experiencing high turnover. Our local turnover
Child care staff earn very low wages. The average center-based
teacher earns $8.oo an hour that places them among the lowest paid
professionals. Low pay prevents child care workers from seeking further education.
Consequently, many child care providers have minimal education that
further impacts the quality.
Our vision is to live in a community where there is a sufficient
supply of professionally trained and
committed child care workers to meet the needs of children and families. To create this vision we are
developing a provider education project that is tied to higher pay and better benefits. In addition, we
have identified ways to use our existing child care system more effectively and are working to develop
these improvements across local programs.
Although a large portion of our work is specific to Hamilton County, we
have been active in surrounding
areas. CDF is a part of both the Clermont County Child Care Connection and the Butler County Child
Care Coalition. We have also contributed to recent child care initiatives in Northern Kentucky.
NEW EDUCATION INITIATIVE
At long last, CDF has become involved in public education at the local
level. Inspired by our national
Board President, Dr. David Hornbeck, Superintendent of Philadelphia Public Schools, CDF national
has begun developing national strategies to address the ills of our public school systems across the country.
Locally, CDF has recently entered a partnership with the Cincinnati
Public School system and the
Cincinnati Federation of Teachers. Begun in the last months of 1999, CDF will be responsible for
making sure that all voices that need to be heard, become a part of the entire effort to reform schools.
We have identified the school site as the primary place where
successful change can occur and be
sustained. The year 2000 promises to be an exciting practice of democracy in Cincinnati Public Schools.
MONITORING WELFARE REFORM
Fact: Children account for three-quarters of those receiving cash assistance in Hamilton County.
Fact: Large numbers of children and their parents have left cash assistance over the past several years.
Fact: Homeless shelters, food pantries, and soup kitchens are seeing
increasing numbers of children and
parents seeking help.
During the last year, the Welfare Monitoring and Evaluation Committee
(WMEC) and the Community
Welfare Monitoring Project (CWMP), convened by CDF-Cincinnati, have issued eight brief reports on
the impact of the changing welfare system.
The first report detailed the results of a CWMP survey conducted in
August 1998. The CWMP survey
indicated that welfare to work and cash assistance families had similar levels of difficulty accessing such
basic needs as food and shelter, but that welfare to work families had greater difficulty getting medical
care for their families. Nevertheless, families who left welfare for work were generally happier than cash
assistance families. Four additional rounds of surveys have been carried out in cooperation with the
Contact Center in the last year. Results should be available shortly.
The WMEC has issued seven reports authored by Prof. Steve Howe of UC
based primarily on Hamilton
County welfare client records. Professor Howe has discovered that a large number of Ohio Works First
families were not being assigned work, which led to a low work participation rate. That finding resulted in
work participation rates skyrocketing in the second of half of 1999.
Howe has also recently begun a series of in-depth interviews with
former welfare recipients to determine
how they are faring, including which factors seem to promote post-welfare success and which seem to
lead to difficulties. The results from these interviews will be crucial in helping us understand the lives of the
children and families affected by welfare reform. Preliminary data should be available later this spring.
In addition to Hamilton County, Butler County and several counties in
Northern Kentucky have also decided to
survey their poorer families to determine the condition of their children and parents since the major federal and
state policies changes occurred. The results of these surveys will also be important because the first wave of
families hits the stringent Ohio time limit in October of 2000.
Partnering with other local agencies, CDF has worked hard this past
year to make the Childrens Health
Insurance Program (CHIP) a more family friendly process.
As a result, HCDHS has taken significant steps to reduce barriers to
enrollment. They have also begun taking
pro-active measures to deal with the problem of families losing their coverage unnecessarily due to the 6-month
re-application cycle. CDF along with Automated Health Systems have designed a strategy to survey these
families and help re-enroll them.
CDF also recently completed a CHIP consumer satisfaction survey, which
complements the just completed
evaluation of Hamilton County outreach and enrollment processes. The results will be used to encourage
change when and where needed in order to better serve families in our area.
Along with CDF Ohio and other organizations, we successfully advocated
at the state level for changes to the
current CHIP program. Starting July 1, 2000, CHIP will be available to more families and the enrollment process
has been greatly simplified. Also, families will only have to re-apply every 12 months instead of 6 months.
CDF has been working closely with the Ohio Commission on Minority
Health on a project titled Covering Ohio
Kids. The initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is dedicated to discovering and sharing
new and effective ways to do outreach for CHIP.
SWOCC MAKES A CHANGE IN EFFORT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
1999, the Southwest Ohio Childrens Coalition (SWOCC) went through a reorganization
to make our
work for children more effective. There are now four committees designed to identify and address childrens
issues. These committees include: Child Health, Early Childhood Care and Education, Family Income and
Support and Child Welfare.
The Child Health Committee,
drawing on the CDF-Ohio statewide Child Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) briefings,
has consistently had representation from 5-7 counties in Southwest Ohio. The Committee devoted itself to
investigating CHIP outreach strategies and coordinating them when possible so that children could be served well.
This committee also worked to gain local legislative support for CHIP II, which will be implemented in 2000.
This committee of the coalition has also worked on provider access issues in support of the Regional Head
Start Health Collaborative.
In the fall of 1999, SWOCC once
again convened a budget briefing For Our Children, this time in Sharonville.
With 250 attendees, this briefing superseded the previous briefing and included several state officials addressing
the Ohio State Budget that was passed in June 1999.
Because so much of SWOCC
work occurs in committee, the general membership decided to hold quarterly
meetings. The first meeting addressed public education in the Cincinnati Public Schools and enjoyed the
participation of Superintendent Adamowski, Board Members Gilligan and Warner, CFT President Mooney,
and Urban League CEO Sheila Adams. The panel received rave reviews and mustered interest in the possible
establishment of an Education Committee of SWOCC.
Click here for
CDF 2001 Annual Report