Scott Mahoney | Reporter
LORAIN — Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate and current Attorney General Mike DeWine met with several community leaders Monday at the Boys and Girls Club of Lorain to discuss his children’s agenda, which — among other things — aims to improve and increase the quality of early childhood education services in the state.
DeWine said two weeks ago he put out the children’s agenda, which he said “puts a lot of focus on early childhood development.” Since that time he has held similar meetings around the state “with people who work with kids.”
“The idea is for me to listen to them,” DeWine said. “I’ve traveled this state in the last 30 years probably more than anyone has, but I still learn things every day. It’s by having meetings like this that I’m able to learn things.”
His proposal also would increase home-visiting services for at-risk, first-time mothers to give them the tools they need to promote child development and school readiness.
DeWine said the agenda also aims to provide a mental health professional in every school in the state because “now, more than ever, we need to find ways to talk to our children and get them the help they need.” He also said the counselors would be paid for by the state.
The agenda also calls for reform to the state’s foster care system, implement age-appropriate drug prevention education in K-12, and create a director of children’s initiatives that will report to the governor and coordinate children’s programs across all state agencies.
“Our goal is for every child to graduate from high school and be truly, truly college-ready, or have a pathway to a career in front of them,” DeWine said. “To achieve that, they need to be reading by third grade. To be reading by third grade, they need to start kindergarten and not be very far behind other kids in their class.
“This is why Jon Husted and I are putting a lot of emphasis on early childhood development. We are really going to focus on that after we take office.”
DeWine and Husted will face Democrats Richard Cordray and Betty Sutton in November. The Ohio Democratic Party released a statement saying that DeWine continues to duck questions about the Statehouse Republican plan to “gut the Medicaid expansion program that provides real coverage to more than 13,500 Lorain County residents.”
DeWine said he isn’t avoiding the questions at all and isn’t against the expansion of Medicaid.
“We have said that we’re in favor of the Medicaid expansion,” he said. “We’re going to really push for all of Medicaid to more focus on wellness, trying to get in front of these medical problems. It just seems to make sense, in the long run, and I think it’s cost effective to do that.”
DeWine said while Republicans are for expansion, they’re for expansion with significant reform.
“We’ve also said that we will have a work requirement,” he said. “That work requirement is not punitive. The whole idea is to help someone get a job. If they’re recovering and have an addiction, we want to get them in an addiction program. If they have a lack of skillsets to get a job, the work requirement is satisfied by the fact they’re in school, in an apprentice program or any number of things.
“The whole idea is to make Medicaid work better.”
Read the full article on The Chronicle’s website here.