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Ohio’s “Help Me Grow” Would Shrink Under Budget Plan

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 By Mary KuhlmanContact
May 27, 2009

Columbus, OH – As lawmakers look for ways to trim the state’s upcoming two-year budget, children's advocates are discouraged that lawmakers are considering cuts to programs that enhance the health and development of young children. Under the current plan, more than 31,000 infants and toddlers would lose services provided by Help Me Grow.

Cuyahoga County Help Me Grow Project Director Melissa Manos says the program provides resources to families of young children at risk for developmental delays.

"We work with them closely to make sure they get their well-baby checks; we do nutrition screenings; in many cases, we identify kids who have all kinds of delays; and we do periodic developmental screenings."

With the recent rise in abuse and neglect cases in Ohio, Manos says now is not the time to cut quality early-care programs.

"We really need to step up to the plate and take care of the youngest citizens; particularly now, because all families are stressed out and it makes children, infants and toddlers even more-vulnerable."

Pam Edwards, manager of Clermont County's Help Me Grow program, says it's essential the state continue funding, because early investments can maximize the social, mental and physical development of young children, while preventing future problems.

"A lot of what a child learns occurs between birth and age five. When we are talking about a program that is birth to three, we have the greatest amount of impact on that child’s brain development."

Some legislators have said they support early education, but there simply isn't enough money. A final decision on the budget cuts is expected this week.

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