Women's Fund Childcare Grant Award

Sharlene Neumann (left) and Teresa Alt (right) accept a $25,000 grant from the Women's Fund for improving local child care. In the center are Women's Fund co-chairs Kristie Massa and Kristine Lindeman.

MANSFIELD -- The Richland County Foundation Women’s Fund recently announced the largest grant in its history, a $25,000 grant awarded to the Richland County Youth and Family Council.

Teresa Alt and Sharlene Neumann of Richland County Job and Family Services accepted the award during the Women’s Fund annual luncheon on Wednesday.

“In its strategic plan, the Women’s Fund has committed three years of investment to making quality childcare affordable and accessible to all women,” said Kristie Massa, chair of the Women’s Fund. “The childcare support for Step Up to Quality grant will provide resources to local centers and in-home childcare providers so they can meet Ohio’s new Step Up to Quality standards.”

Step Up to Quality is a rating system used by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to evaluate child-care providers. In the past, participation was optional. After July 1, child-care providers will be required to be SUTQ rated in order to serve children whose families receive public child care subsidies.

“There are many people who are working but don’t make enough to pay for childcare, so the publicly funded childcare system has raised the standard so that those children can hopefully be ready to learn when they get to kindergarten and families can continue to work,” explained Alt.

Some SUTQ requirements include minimum staff ratios and curriculum requirements. Grant funding will help local childcare centers and daycare providers with the costs of hiring additional staff and upgrading educational equipment.

“Child care is expensive, especially when you’re trying to incorporate higher standards and quality of education, so this will maintain those publicly-funded slots and hopefully we’ll be able to recruit some new centers and some new in home providers,” said Alt.

The Women’s Fund was established in 1996 as a permanent endowment to support programs that benefit women and girls in the Richland County community. The fund has grown to over $1.4 million and has now awarded almost $411,000 in grants impacting hundreds of lives. The child care grant was one of five grants totaling $32,293.82 awarded at this year. 

The Mansfield Art Center received a grant for its families rising program, which assists mothers homeschooling children with educational support and a platform for learning, sharing, empowering and problem solving.

“Receiving money for families who are rising in Mansfield within the homeschool population is another really wonderful way to acknowledge a subsection of the population who are underserved and by serving underserved populations, we are making our community stronger each and every day,” said Deb Weaver, program director for the Mansfield Art Center.

The Richland Astronomical Society received a grant to create an educational outreach program to help Girl Scouts earn their astronomy badge.

“I am just over the moon,” said Deloris Mlay, outreach coordinator at the Richland Astronomical Society. “I hope to empower some of these young ladies to be more than they think they can be, give them confidence. I was sixty one before I became an amateur astronomer. I don’t want them to wait that long.”

Other grant recipients included:

  • The North Central State College Foundation’s essentials for women program, which provides basic hygiene items and cleaning products to low-income female students.

  • The Ohio State University at Mansfield’s “Voices for Change” student leadership conference, which provides tools and training to help young women launch leadership networking chapters at the Richland County middle schools, high schools and colleges.

  • Shelby High School’s GOLD club, a group that offers support and leadership opportunities for high school girls. The grant will allow for the creation of mentorship program to benefit sixth and seventh grade girls at Shelby Middle School.

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