Ohio takes part in National Day Without Childcare, advocates call for more funding
Some Ohio child care providers closed for the day or shut down early on Monday as families across the country took part in National Day Without Child Care.
Child care providers, advocates and parents voiced their desires for more child care funding in the state budget and better wages for providers on Monday morning in the Ladies Gallery of the Ohio Statehouse, as more than 300 child care providers across the country closed for the day.
“All of us are standing in solidarity to draw attention to the national crisis that our childcare system is in,” said Tami Lunan, the Care Economy Organizing Project (CEO) director.
The Ohio House recently eliminated $150 million in American Rescue Plan funds that were a part of the governor’s executive budget proposal to establish a child care scholarship for “critical occupations and other direct service professionals,” according to the budget analysis by the Legislative Service Commission.
The scholarships would have been given to those with household incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level — $60,000 for a family of four.
“We’re urging lawmakers in the Senate to restore funding for that program,” said Will Petrik, Policy Matters Ohio project director. “Every child in Ohio deserves the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. All parents deserve to go to work, knowing that their kids have a safe, nurturing place to be.”
Too many families can’t afford child care — causing a shortage of jobs in the child care industry, Petrik said.
“Child care providers are struggling to recruit and retain child care professionals and serve the families that need care,” he said. “And ultimately, we’re here at the Statehouse because state lawmakers haven’t devoted the needed resources to support families, to support child care providers and to build a bright future for all of us.”
Single moms struggle with lack of childcare
Rita Hallaveld lost her access to child care during the COVID-19 pandemic and the single mom found herself alone with a two-year-old without any help for months.
“This meant I could not work even from home,” she said. “This is the reality for many, many parents.”
Like with most things, she said the pandemic made child care challenges worse.
The child care center she previously used never regained all the available child care slots they have before the pandemic, and her daughter’s current child care center has been forced to reduce their open hours due to staffing shortages.
“Raising children is literally pushing families into poverty,” Hallaveld said. “Now is the time to turn that around.”
Columbus resident Malia Ferrell lost her funded child care through the state when her pay increased, but the single mom wasn’t able to afford to pay for child care out of pocket so she was left with no choice but to keep her 1-year-old daughter with her while she worked from home.
“Eventually I got fired because of the background noises, because I had my child and they didn’t want her in the work environment,” she said. “My main struggle is making sure my child is in daycare, so that I can work and provide for her and also my household, but I can’t because I don’t meet the standards of childcare.”
Child care providers
Ronda Brown has been in the child care provider business for more than 20 years.
“Parents can’t work because we don’t have a place for their children,” she said. “We need to invest in our providers. We need to invest in quality care.”
Tarrezz Thompson, the owner of Linique Childcare, has run a home based childcare provider for the last 12 years.
“If legislators aren’t passing policies that support our childcare workers, they aren’t supporting our kids,” Thompson said. “We need to earn enough to be able to provide for the basic needs of ourselves and our families. We need to fund essential workers like me who help to take care of our children. Without our support, the Ohio economy would crumble.”
Child care professionals in Ohio are paid a median wage of $13.15 an hour, Petrik said, something he wants to bump up to $20 per hour.
“We must make sure childcare professionals are paid a wage that they can live with dignity and support their own families,” he said. “They are the workforce behind the workforce.”
Central Ohio providers and childcare advocates sent a memo to Intel asking the Silicon Valley semiconductor maker to invest in child care as the company builds a new microchip factory in Licking County.
“A comprehensive child care system would not only provide high-quality, accessible, culturally relevant, inclusive, and affordable care for families, but it also creates greater workforce stability by providing care in a variety of settings that meet different family needs, whether it’s outside of traditional working hours, in a language other than English, or offered in different setting,” the memo said.
This story was republished from the Ohio Capital Journal under a Creative Commons license.