By: Lynn Hulsey Access article
The COVID-19 pandemic worsened challenges parents have long faced in finding affordable, quality child care; intensified problems companies have filling jobs; and set back efforts to help preschoolers get ready for kindergarten.
“These are big issues and it’s what we have known all along. But through the pandemic, it’s finally hitting people and they’re finally valuing early childhood education in a different way,” said Lisa Babb, strategic director of program operations for 4C For Children, a state-funded child care resource and referral agency serving the 10-county Dayton region.
“It’s going to take resources but there is an answer to this. We’ve got to figure this out. We just have to.”
High-quality, year-round child care costs $10,000 to $15,000 per child annually in the Dayton region, said Robyn Lightcap, executive director of Preschool Promise, a nonprofit funded by Montgomery County and the city of Dayton that serves families in seven local communities. Some local child care centers, in-home providers and after school programs that closed during the pandemic never reopened, while others reopened with limited capacity, Babb said, and she believes problems will intensify as companies bring remote workers back to the office.
“Prior to the pandemic we certainly had child care deserts, places in the state where there wasn’t child care. Perhaps some of our rural communities didn’t have child care options, let alone affordable child care options,” said Warren County Commissioner Shannon Jones, also president and CEO of Groundwork Ohio, a Columbus-based nonprofit child advocacy group. “It persists. It’s even more pronounced now.”