Without federal action, Ohio could lose 204,000 child care slots
Posted July 09, 2020 in Press Releases
If Congress doesn’t allocate enough support in the next stimulus bill, Ohio could lose 204,000 child care slots, according to a new report from Policy Matters Ohio. Policy Matters released the report at a press conference today with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC).
Child care has been one of the biggest societal challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many parents are struggling to balance the need to care for their children with the need to work. Meanwhile, like many businesses, child care centers are closing or reducing capacity to comply with social distancing requirements.
“The child care industry is the workforce behind the workforce,” said OOC organizer Jasmine Henderson. “Without safe and affordable child care we don’t have an economy. Our economy isn’t something that runs on its own, it runs on people.”
Nationally, 336,200 child care workers were laid off in April. Policy Matters says Congress must allocate at least $50 billion to support child care nationwide. Policy Matters is also calling on state lawmakers to appropriate an additional $60 million from Ohio’s federal COVID-19 funds to help prevent more child care providers from permanently closing.
“All parents deserve to go to work knowing their kids have a safe, nurturing place to go,” Policy Matters Budget Researcher and report author Will Petrik said. “State and federal lawmakers need to provide resources and relief now to support Ohio families, child care providers and the entire economy.”
George Goddard who works with the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development to support child care providers in the region said so far, state and federal policymakers have offered short-term solutions, but haven’t addressed the deeper need for long-term change. “If we didn’t have I-77 running through the middle of the state, people couldn’t get to work,” he said. “Right now the way we approach child care, it would be like taking one lane out of the interstate going north and south. If people don’t have that child care option available, they’re not going to be able to get to work. Child care is a critical part of the infrastructure and it needs to be funded like it’s a critical part of the infrastructure.”
The report incorporates a survey of 129 child care stakeholders conducted by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and the Center for Community Change in May. Ninety-nine percent of respondents said they have been affected by COVID-19; 76% reported they were forced to close either because of the state order, enrollment declines or health and safety concerns. Garri Davis, director of the Cincinnati-based Water Lily Learning Center, shared her challenge of serving fewer children while facing additional costs, such as affording personal protective equipment.
“We’re calling on DeWine and all elected officials to help us make a difference in the lives of our children, our families and our staff so we can sustain and still be in business on the other side of COVID-19,” Davis said.