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State of the State: "Unprecedented" Focus on Ohio's Kids

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 By Rob Ferrett/Eric Mack, Contact
March 15, 2007

Advocates for Ohio's children say there's a lot to like about Governor Strickland's first State of the State address, which some say had an unprecedented focus on children. Mary Wachtel with Voices for Ohio's Children says the governor's call for health coverage for all kids would make Ohio a national leader.

"For children, health care can't wait. We know that preventive care and early detection and treatment of children's health issues are some of the most cost-effective investments we can make, and investing in children's health is simply good fiscal policy."

Despite the state's tough budget situation, children's advocates say they've seen bipartisan support in the legislature when it comes to investing in kids.

The governor called for big increases in funding and eligibility for public childcare and pre-school programs. Lori McClung with the Center for Community Solutions predicts that will have a big payoff down the road - for kids and the state.

"When children have access and participate in high-quality early care and education, they have higher graduation rates, they have less contact with the juvenile justice system, which certainly saves the state money."

Governor Strickland said the state should make thousands more families eligible for the "Help Me Grow" program, in which nurses and social workers visit low-income or at-risk families with young children. Margaret Hulbert with the
United Way of Greater Cincinnati says that gets kids off to a good start.

"It helps those parents develop parenting skills, it helps them understand how to help their child, and we've seen amazing results."

Crystal Allen with Public Children Services Association of Ohio notes that kids in the foster care system will get help by being able to keep public healthcare after turning 18.

"This new coverage as announced by the governor, and the new focus on wage and job supplements for young persons entering the workforce, will greatly assist the teenagers we have aging out of foster care as they move toward becoming productive taxpayers."

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