Kevin Martin | Reporter
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine visited Lorain on July 23 and held a listening session with local stakeholders who work with youth.
At the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lorain County’s Desich Family Campus, Lorain County representatives met with the state attorney general.
“The idea is for me to listen to them,” DeWine said. “I’ve traveled this state probably more than anyone else has in the last 30 years or so. But I still learn things every day. And it’s having meetings like this that I am able to learn things.”
DeWine said after releasing his children’s agenda about two weeks ago, he wanted to meet directly with stakeholders and build those relationships.
“Some of the people I already knew, and some I did not know but know we have a relationship with them,” he said. “They’re all experts and they’re all people in their field.
“What I have found is, it’s just very helpful for someone who is in public office to reach out to people who are experts in whatever field it is. This table is experts in kids.”
Lorain City Schools CEO David Hardy appreciated the opportunity to collaborate and is hoping for more opportunities moving forward.
“I just appreciate his time and effort to come visit us and hear our biggest concerns,” Hardy said. “It’s exciting to have someone so deeply engaged, and hopefully, this is a continued dialogue with future leadership of the state.”
In the six-point platform entitled “Opportunity for Every Ohio Kid,” DeWine is pitching a heavy emphasis on early childhood development and expanding opportunities for children across the state.
“We’ve got kids now who are showing up to kindergarten who’ve got half the vocabulary of other kids,” DeWine said.
He also said his plan is to have a mental health counselor in every school to reach students earlier so that they’ll have opportunities to succeed.
Lorain Schools Board member Tim Williams stressed just having the conversation about mental health in schools is a positive development.
“The fact that we’re talking about mental health with this much intentionality is huge,” Williams said. “When you get to the specifics of what, then you have to get into professionals and you have to look at different communities and different capacities.
“But the fact at this level that we’re talking about the absolute need, that for me is huge. Again, the agenda’s out there now that you can’t put away.”
Williams said the session was positive and it opened the door for local leaders to share their concerns.
“It was a conversation, but it also was clearly a listening session. So it was very clear that Mr. DeWine was coming to listen.
“So he made that agenda item very clear. There were five agenda items and so it started off with listening and it ended with listening.”
“I really appreciated that he was there attentively with his staff listening to our concerns. And then all the questions that he asked were concern related. I found it helpful and I learned a lot of perspectives from other parts of our community and that was my takeaway. It was a good listening session.”
Other aspects of the plan include:
• Raising the eligibility level for publicly funded early childhood education programs for working families from 130 percent of the federal poverty level to 150 percent, expanding access to at least 20,000 more children.
• Increase home visiting services for at risk-first time mothers and providing them the tools to promote child development and school readiness.
• Reforming the foster care system in Ohio, and initiating a “top-down” review to create a minimum standard of care and appointing an independent ombudsmen to investigate and publish findings on complaints by foster caregivers, foster children and kin.
• Implementation of age appropriate drug prevention education in K-12.
• Create a director of Children’s Initiatives to report to the governor and coordinate children’s programs across state agencies.
Read the full article on The Morning Journal’s website here.