(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Governor Mike DeWine today announced he is enhancing his Bold Beginning Initiative to remove barriers to health care, ease financial burdens, and support parents.
“I have a vision for Ohio to be the best place in the nation to have a baby and raise a family,” said Governor DeWine. “As a father of eight and grandfather of 26, I know that each pregnancy is different, and each family is unique. With Bold Beginnings: Healthy, Supported Families, Ohio will provide even more options and supports that can be tailored to each family’s needs, while providing assistance to mothers most at-risk for poor outcomes, to help them as they begin or add to their family. The research is clear, ensuring babies and their parents are safe and supported during pregnancy and the early years helps children succeed later in life. I want to see all children have the opportunity to succeed.”
In partnership with the Governor’s Children’s Initiative, Governor DeWine’s Bold Beginning Initiative has already invested $1 billion in Ohio’s children and families and the new expansion will help even more. The expansion includes plans surrounding healthcare, stability, and Ohio as an employer taking the lead to support new families.
Consistent health care for expectant mothers and their babies helps families thrive.
More Health Coverage for Moms and Babies: Governor DeWine plans to work with the legislature to increase eligibility for Medicaid-sponsored health care to pregnant women and children in families earning up to 300% of the federal poverty level. For a single, expectant mother, the income limit will be $54,930 per year. For a family of three, that’s up to $69,090 a year. This will allow more working families to access prenatal, labor, delivery, post-partum, and preventative care, as well as well-baby visits and other care for the youngest Ohioans, without the financial stress that accompanies major medical care. Earlier this year, Ohio expanded access by allowing new mothers to continue receiving coverage for up to one year after giving birth.
Comprehensive Maternal Care Program: Medicaid launched Comprehensive Maternal Care, a partnership with OB/GYN practices to connect expectant moms with care earlier in their pregnancy, focusing on improving birth outcomes. In addition, expectant moms will receive guidance and personalized assistance to access services, supports, and health care tailored to their individual needs and circumstances.
Best Practices In Birthing Hospitals: The Ohio Department of Health will work with Ohio hospitals and birthing centers to implement a standard of evidence-based clinical practices that help reduce complications and improve maternal and fetal outcomes.
Connection with Critical Resources: Ohio will make the Electronic Pregnancy Risk Assessment Form easier for providers to complete, ensuring vulnerable moms can be more quickly connected with services and supports. This form helps providers determine if state or community assistance is needed to provide stable housing, home visiting, nutrition, and education. By further incentivizing providers to complete this form, Ohio can connect more moms with critical services that contribute to a healthy, stable environment, ultimately leading to improved outcomes.
Supporting Mental Health and Wellness: Ohio will expand the reach of perinatal depression screening tools helping mothers connect to necessary care and improving their mental wellness. Many new mothers face post-partum depression and too often struggle to find the help they need, which leads to poorer outcomes for both the mother and the baby. Expanding the use of depression screening tools by health care practitioners combined with a statewide campaign to raise awareness about the importance of mental and emotional health of pregnant and parenting women will improve health outcomes.
Health Care for More Adopted Youth: Governor DeWine will work with the legislature to expand Medicaid access to more adopted youth, reducing economic barriers for potential adoptive families. Ohio will pursue a waiver to allow children adopted through private agencies to be eligible for Medicaid coverage, even if their adoptive parents have private insurance.
Care Coordination for Children with Complex Needs: Ohio has launched Ohio Resilience through Integrated Systems and Excellence (OhioRISE), a new specialized managed care behavioral health program for young people who have the most complex health care needs., OhioRISE addresses longstanding gaps in care and coordination that often result in families having to navigate complex, often siloed systems on their own. The program features a new statewide network of care management entities that operate under the OhioRISE plan and serve as community-based experts in navigating and coordinating care. More than 10,000 families have already enrolled in OhioRISE, which aims to keep more families together by creating access to new and enhanced, evidence-based mental health services.
Ohio will pursue initiatives to help families ensure stability – financially, physically, and emotionally. Meeting families’ needs and reducing stress by creating stability improves outcomes for mothers and their families, allowing them the opportunity to thrive.
Eliminating State and Local Tax on Baby Supplies: Governor DeWine will work with the legislature to eliminate state and local taxes on diapers, car seats, wipes, safety gear, and other baby supplies, saving Ohio families hundreds of dollars a year.
Safe, Secure Housing for More Struggling and New Mothers: Programs such as Healthy Beginnings at Home, which connects housing-unstable, pregnant women and new mothers with housing and wrap-around supports, are virtually eliminating infant mortality and improving birth outcomes among the families they serve. Ohio will pursue a federal waiver to provide short-term housing and wrap-around care to pregnant women and new families who are struggling to find stable housing. Additionally, Healthy Beginnings at Home will expand to more Ohio communities.
Increased Access to Nutrition Services: The Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), federal programs that help improve maternal health and reduce infant mortality by providing nutritious foods, have different enrollment processes, meaning eligible moms often aren’t enrolled in both. Ohio will expand the new pilot program that cross enrolls women in both federal programs, allowing more Ohioans to receive nutrition benefits.
Expand Programs that Provide Cribs, Car Seats, and Play Yards: The Ohio Department of Health, and the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund within the Department of Job and Family Services provide vulnerable and expectant new mothers with material assistance such as cribs, play yards, and car seats in order to keep children safe and healthy. The Department of Health will increase funding for this program to ensure more vulnerable families leave the hospital with critical items to keep their babies safe.
Safe Sleep/Cribs for Kids Program: The Ohio Department of Health is increasing their safe sleep education program because sleep-related infant deaths are some of the most preventable. Ohio’s newly certified foster parents will receive safe sleep information, and a partnership with Direct on Scene Education will educate first responders about safe sleep, in order to provide real-time safe sleep education and connect families with needed resources. The Ohio Department of Health’s Cribs for Kids program will be expanding to reach even more Ohioans.
Expand Programs to Meaningfully Engage Fathers: The role fathers play in providing stability for their children helps contribute to their future success. Research shows that children who have meaningfully engaged fathers have reduced behavior problems, improved academic outcomes, and reduced poverty. The Ohio Fatherhood Commission will expand to help more fathers learn how to be meaningfully engaged in the lives of their child and the child’s mother. Often fathers want to provide for their children, but they lack education and skills to meet their financial obligations. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will partner with workforce development and child support enforcement agencies to help engage fathers, get them the training they need to begin careers, and help them better provide for their children.
Increasing Quality Child Care Accessibility: Evidence shows that quality child care can help to change the life trajectory of children. Since taking office, Governor DeWine has focused on creating more opportunities for all children to attend quality child care programs. Increasing from 40% in 2019, now all child care providers who receive public funds are quality rated, meaning the settings are safe, the curriculum is quality, and there are programs and supports available to families. Governor DeWine will work with the legislature to increase eligibility for publicly funded child care to 150% of the federal poverty level – nearly $42,000 for a family of four. This will help more working families access care. Additionally, Governor DeWine intends to create small business startup grants that will help child care providers cover their initial operating costs, with a priority focus on areas of the state that are child care deserts.
Foster Care Transformation: To ensure Ohio’s child welfare system is focused on the best interests of the children it serves, Governor DeWine created the Children’s Services Transformation Advisory Council to conduct a comprehensive review and develop a set of recommendations to improve it. Their final report included 37 recommendations across 7 domains, including workforce, practice, and adoption. All 37 are currently implemented or underway at the Department of Job and Family Services, including the creation of a Youth and Family Ombudsmen Office to investigate and help resolve concerns involving children and families impacted by foster care and a public children services agencies. The next budget will include additional funding to ensure that public children services agencies have the resources they need to focus on a child’s best interest, to meet their increased demand.
Implementing Adoption Assistance: In addition to the increased Medicaid coverage for those children adopted through private agencies outlined above, Governor DeWine will work with the General Assembly to create parity between public and private adoption by offering private adoption families $1,000 toward the legal costs associated with adoption, reducing the financial burden of adoptive families.
Leading the Way
As an employer, the state of Ohio will lead the way in pursuing family-friendly policies for its workers.
Reducing Financial Burden of Health Care: The DeWine Administration has eliminated all insurance co-pays related to prenatal care, labor, and delivery for state employees, reducing financial strain.
Increased Maternity Leave: Governor DeWine also extended paid maternity leave from six weeks to twelve weeks for state employees, allowing more time for families to create a strong start. Additionally, Governor DeWine will work to eliminate the two-week waiting period state employees have to access paid parental leave, further reducing the financial burden families face.
Some of the Bold Beginning Health, Stable Families initiatives are being implemented or expanded, while others will require legislation, but these efforts, combined with the quality services and supports that are available now, will help Ohio be the best state to raise a family.
“The bottom line is this: children living in poverty and family instability experience many types of stress and adverse childhood experiences that can impact their lifelong success. By intervening early in the lives of vulnerable pregnant women, we can break this cycle and create positive outcomes for moms and babies. This approach, helping both babies, and their families, will have profound impact on our communities and our economy, said Governor DeWine. “Supporting Ohio’s families now will help children thrive as adults and continue leading our great state to an even brighter future.”