Early Childhood Education

Access to high-quality early childhood care and education opportunities help to ensure that every child has a Head Start and a Strong Start in life. Children’s brains develop rapidly in their first 5 years as they build a foundation for all future outcomes in school and in life. Research shows that investments in quality early childhood programs generate an average annual return of 7-10 percent on every dollar invested.

Despite what we know about the importance of high-quality early childhood opportunities, far too many children in the United States lack access to quality care, especially poor children and other vulnerable children who stand to benefit the most. Access to high-quality early childhood opportunities is all too often determined by parental income and geography; and federal and state programs designed to support high-quality early learning and development are too underfunded to serve all eligible children.

CDF-Ohio is working to change this situation by supporting policies that guarantee all poor and vulnerable children have access to a high quality continuum of early childhood programs from birth through age 5 that can comprehensively address their needs and the needs of their families.

Ohio's Public Child Care Subsidy Program

High-quality child care is one of the steps on the path to a healthy and successful life for children and is a particularly important pathway out of poverty for low-income children.

It is also crucial for working parents who need affordable care while they are on the job. Access to consistent, quality child care helps low-income and working class parents move up the economic ladder, stay employed, and become self-sufficient so that they can support their families. From a public policy perspective, access to child care ensures a well-trained workforce for Ohio’s future economic success. CDF-Ohio is committed to ensuring that Ohio’s public child care subsidy program operates both to serve as many families as possible, as well as to ensure that children in the program are benefitting from a high-quality setting that sets in motion their learning and development.

Useful Resources

Step Up to Quality



High-quality preschool programs for 3- and 4-year-olds improve school readiness and facilitate a range of positive outcomes in both school and life.

These programs are especially beneficial for low-income children and other vulnerable children, including those who are homeless, in foster care, learning English as a second language, or have disabilities. Unfortunately, access to preschool is often determined by parental income, and the lottery of geography and quality varies widely. CDF-Ohio is committed to working to ensure all children, especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have access to quality preschool programs that prepare them for school and life.

Useful Resources

Ohio Department of Education Early Learning

Data and Resources

The Early Childhood Hunger Imperative

Early childhood education must be the top priority for policymakers. Research is clear: Learning begins when a baby is born. Nurturing a baby’s brain with information is therefore very important. For a baby’s brain to develop, fuel is needed to build strong neuron connections. That fuel comes in part from good nutrition. Too many of Ohio’s babies are hungry and not receiving the fuel they need for their brains to reach their full potential.

January 28, 2016

Addressing Children's Trauma: A Toolkit for Schools

As a follow-up to our 2014 issue brief, Building Trauma-Informed Systems of Care for Children in Ohio, CDF-Ohio teamed up with Policy Matters Ohio to explore further how schools can implement (and in some cases, are implementing) trauma-informed care. This issue brief reviews how trauma impacts children's brain development, ability to learn, and behavior, and provides more detail about how schools can and should work to better serve students who experience trauma.

July 28, 2015

Achieving Educational Stability for Foster Youth in Ohio and the Impact of the Fostering Connections Legislation

Children placed in substitute care often face unique educational challenges. Not only are they forced to deal with the trauma resulting from abuse and neglect, they must also confront many other barriers to school success: removal from their homes, separation from their families and friends, and multiple placements into temporary homes and new school environments. This issue brief explores some of the barriers to educational stability that affect foster youth, provides an overview of recent legislation that addresses these challenges, and recommends specific changes to be made at both the state and federal levels.

November 1, 2011

Ohio & Kinship Care:The Challenge for Grandparents & Other Caregivers

Ohio & Kinship Care provides information on the status of grandparent caregivers in Ohio. Although a kinship caregiver can be a family member or close friend of the child, the information in this issue brief focuses on grandparent caregivers and the grandchildren in their care because this is the only population for which data is currently available.

August 20, 2007

Employer Toolkit: Healthy Start Healthy Families

December 30, 2006

Promising Practices: Ohio Covering Kids and Families

November 1, 2006