Early childhood education may get a boost in the state budget. A group of lawmakers are meeting today to discuss adding a voucher program that will help eligible children attend private preschools. The Education Finance Subcommittee will be hearing testimony from local educators, business people and community leaders. There are 130,000 children in Ohio eligible to attend government funded preschool programs. Fewer than half of them receive preschool services.
Peggy Lehner, the republican senator from Kettering and the Chair of the Ohio Senate Education Committee is leading the initiative to add early childhood education vouchers to the budget.
“By and large we do a horrible job in the state of Ohio in providing early childhood education opportunities for children in poverty," Lehner said. "I would like to put us on a road of making sure that every child who is at risk of being behind in school has an opportunity to catch up through a quality preschool program. We can’t do that overnight but I think it certainly is time that Ohio started building towards that goal.”
Children without a pre-school experience are more likely to be held behind and require intensive intervention when they go to kindergarten. Lehner says they don’t yet know how much this initiative will cost, but says she hopes to offset the expense by ensuring more children are ready for kindergarten when they begin school.