This opportunity needs to be widely known and Dayton area leaders should help spread the word. After-school and summer learning providers in the area can also help parents find opportunities by participating in the program’s online marketplace.
The ACE program holds enormous potential to meet the learning needs of Ohio students. To ensure its long-term success, state policymakers need to pay attention to three issues.
First, Ohio must provide exceptional customer service to parents. They may have questions about the types of expenses allowed or how to properly document their expenses. The state should clearly communicate program expectations and provide parents with timely assistance.
Second, policy makers must strive to preserve the integrity of the program. The food stamp program, which operates much like ACE, has a reputation for strong quality control. Similarly, ACE must ensure the proper use of funds.
Third, Ohio lawmakers must find a sustainable source of funding to preserve or expand the program. At present, the accounts are funded through the huge COVID relief packages. Starting in 2024, the legislature will have to set aside state dollars to guarantee the continuation of ACE.
Learning doesn’t stop the minute the dismissal bell rings. It’s great that many students already have resources to put their extracurricular time to good use. Now, with additional help, more students will also have the opportunity to broaden their horizons.
Aaron Churchill is the Ohio Research Director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a nonprofit think tank that promotes excellence in education.