Letter in Support of Investments in Child Care in the State Budget

June 13, 2023

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The Women’s Fund signed onto a letter coordinated by Groundwork Ohio to Ohio policymakers encouraging them to increase the accessibility and affordability of child care and support the child care workforce.

Dear Members of the Ohio General Assembly,

Each week, more than 82,000 child care professionals across the state care for and educate
Ohio’s youngest children while providing critical support for working parents.

Child care professionals are the backbone of our state’s economy—the workforce behind
the workforce. By allowing parents to work so they can provide financially for their families
and our future workforce, these professionals support children’s development during the
most critical years of brain growth—before a child enters kindergarten.

Simply put, our state’s short- and long-term economic success is impossible without our child
care programs and the passionate educators and administrators who lead them. According
to a 2023 report from ReadyNation, the lack of child care for children ages three and younger
is costing our country $122 billion a year in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue, and
Ohio’s economy loses an estimated $3.9 billion per year due to child care issues. Despite
this necessity, the child care industry is in crisis. It yields narrow profit margins and pays
among the lowest wages of frontline workers with an average hourly wage of $12.00/hour,
contributing to a 29.4% employee turnover rate.

As a result, too few children have access to early learning experiences and more than 62% of
Ohio kindergartners are not ready to learn.

We are urging our state legislature to support new investments that increase the
accessibility and affordability of child care and support the child care workforce.
This includes the following measures proposed by Governor DeWine:

  • Child Care Capacity: An investment of $150 million of state ARPA funds to provide child care scholarships to direct care professionals including early childhood professionals and to increase infant and toddler child care capacity in communities throughout the state.
  • Child Care Eligibility: An expansion of the state’s publicly funded child care program from 142% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 160%, which would result in more than 15,000 children and families gaining access to care.
  • Preschool: An additional $46 million per year in Early Childhood Education grants, estimated to expand preschool to an additional 11,525 3- and 4-year-olds under
  • 200% FPL.

We are also asking our state legislature to build upon the Governor’s strong proposals
and to support the following new measures:

  • Targeted Infant & Toddler Child Care Capacity Building in Child Care Deserts: A new investment of $30 million in state funds to increase capacity of local communities, specifically Appalachian and communities with high infant mortality rates, to provide safe and developmentally appropriate child care for infants and toddlers.
  • Preschool: An additional $23 million per year to the Governor’s proposed expansion in Early Childhood Education grants. These additional funds can support providing more half-day preschool slots or the piloting of full-day preschool slots.

Even with these targeted investments, too many children and their families will still be left out
as we struggle to recruit and retain qualified professionals to support their needs. They are
just the beginning of what is needed to fully address the child care crisis facing kids, parents,
child care professionals, and Ohio businesses, but they are a vital step in the right direction.