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A Father’s Day Reflection: Why We Should All Care About Affordable Child Care

Updated: Jun 16

By Matt Lofy, President/CEO of the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce and Host of the The Dadass Podcast


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I love being a dad, it’s my favorite title I have.

 

Another title I hold is Chamber of Commerce President. But the one I’m most proud of is Dad, of two amazing kiddos. We have a four-year-old boy and five-month-old daughter, both who are in daycare three days a week.

 

I often find myself thinking about how we parent the future workforce. It’s something I don’t think many of us think of. What lessons are we teaching our kids and what examples are we setting for our children that shape their work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit?

 

We see industries doing anything possible for hiring specialized skills in the trades and other industries dying as their target demographic is nearing retirement age. Then there’s declining college enrollment, high costs and crushing debt from tuition and as a one high school counselor recently told me, “We need parents to set an example of what it means to work real jobs, real hours and real expectations of becoming the next YouTube influencer.”

 

Taking my thought a step further, I often wonder how do we parent the future workforce if our current workforce is having trouble providing for our children?

 

As everything in our lives seems to get more expensive by the day, we’re forced to choose between needs and wants and what’s most essential. For many families, something that is equal parts a want and need is affordable child care. Simply put, if families can’t afford to have their children cared for then they can’t afford to work. We’re fortunate to have found an amazing child care center that we can attend, but that’s not the case for many. Luckily, we have our parents helping two days a week.

 

I've developed a wonderful relationship with the National At-Home Dads Network, a national nonprofit that provides advocacy, community, education and support for families where the fathers are primary caregivers for their children. Many that I met shared that it came down to a conversation with their partner to have someone stay home to raise the kids, rather than pay for child care, which was eating up most of the second income. Now, I’m seeing in this group and other circles, a lot of stay-at-home parents having to take part-time or full-time employment because they can’t live off one salary any longer as all the cost increases tally up.

 

Putting on my Chamber hat, it’s my belief that we need to invest time and resources, public and private, to address the child care issue we’re facing. Not just to ease the burden of working families, but to have employers supported in this, especially our small businesses, along with child care facilities receiving the support needed to attract and retain the quality talent they need.

 

Prior to being a parent, I never thought of this as an issue I’d ever be behind, but the reality is scary. As I sit in more regional housing and regional workforce discussions, this seems to creep its way into these conversations. The workforce, much like our population, is in decline, so more than ever we need workers. We must look at this as a workforce priority as much as it is a family dynamic issue.

 

As many families can’t afford to place their child(ren) with quality child care providers, we can’t afford to ignore this topic any longer. That is why I’m excited to talk about it at work with the opportunity on this blog.

 

Last Father’s Day, we dadvocated for more changing tables in public men’s and gender-neutral restrooms throughout Columbus. We successfully collaborated with Columbus City Council to get 135 installed in local small businesses, nonprofits and Columbus Recreation and Parks restrooms.

 

This year I’m dadvocating for something that impacts us at home, in our businesses and our economy and that’s that we must start talking about affordable child care. Our workforce needs it and so do our families! 


ABOUT MATT: Matt is the founder and cohost of the award-winning Dadass Podcast, with his colleague Shaun Ditty, a central Ohio based adolescent behavioral health counselor. Professionally, Matt serves as the President/CEO of the Worthington Area Chamber where he was recently awarded 40 Under 40 by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and Chamber Professional of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Ohio.

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