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Chris Burns: A Strong Workforce Relies on Quality Child Care

Chris Burns has a 4-year-old grandchild and is the education and marketing manager at Norwood’s Encore Technologies. Burns is also a member of ReadyNation, which is a group of over 3,000 business executives building a skilled workforce by promoting solutions that prepare children to succeed.

Ohio has a critical child care crisis. Ohio’s working parents know how difficult it is to find child care that’s accessible, affordable, and high-quality. This problem is particularly acute for parents of very young children, as infant and toddler care is typically the least available and most expensive. Yet children under age three are experiencing one of the most crucial periods of brain development.

ReadyNation commissioned a national survey of 812 working parents of children under age three. The survey shows how parent’s work commitments, performance, and opportunities are diminished by child care challenges:

  • 86 percent of parents stated child care impacted their work.

  • Employers lost almost $13 billion annually due to child care challenges faced by their workforce.

  • Two-thirds of Ohio parents report having difficulty finding affordable, quality child care. This study was done before COVID-19 and we know those numbers are much higher today.

The price of insufficient child care is immense. Lack of adequate child care annually costs:

  • Families $3,350 per working parent.

  • Businesses $1,150 per working parent in reduced revenue and extra hiring costs.

  • Taxpayers $640 per working parent in lower income tax and sales tax revenue.

  • The lack of reliable child care for working parents of young children up to age two, costs Ohio $1.7 billion per year.

Child care can cost families hundreds of dollars a month, putting quality care out of reach for many low- and middle-income families. Ohio is one of the most difficult states in the nation to qualify for child care assistance, requiring that parents earn less than 130% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is under $35,000 for a family of four. Ohio has proposed increasing this to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, but that’s not enough to provide meaningful relief to working families. Other states allow families to earn up to 200% or even 300% of the Federal Poverty Level and still qualify for assistance. Ohio should commit to at least 150% to be able to compete with other states for a qualified workforce.

We know that access to quality child care supports today’s workforce by helping parents with young children go back to work and stay productive on the job. But quality child care also prepares our future workforce for success – first in school, then on the job and in life.

Children who participate in quality early learning programs, such as high-quality child care, are better prepared to learn when they enter kindergarten, less likely to repeat a grade, more likely to graduate high school, and more likely to pursue a post-secondary degree, certification, or other credential. That is why it’s so crucial that Ohio maintain and build upon Step Up to Quality, Ohio’s 5-star child care quality rating system. After all, high-quality child care is not babysitting. High-quality programs are staffed by well-trained and certified early educators who develop curriculum and create lessons that support the learning and healthy development of young children.

Ohio’s current child care system does not meet the needs of Ohio families or employers. The simple fact is that, from a business leader’s perspective, Ohio needs to do whatever it takes to increase access to quality child care services for working families. This is about growing the workforce of today and ensuring a strong workforce of tomorrow. House Bill 110 – the state biennial budget – is an opportunity for Ohio legislators to put quality child care within reach of more working families across the state. Now is the time for Ohio to expand eligibility for publicly funded child care to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Quality child care is essential for working families, our children, and Ohio businesses. The business community is counting on legislators to address this crisis so that families, the workforce, and taxpayers can recover and thrive.


Groundwork Ohio's budget blog series features stories from child care professionals, families, business leaders, and community members on why there's an urgent need in their communities to expand access to quality child care. In the state biennial budget, Ohio legislators have the opportunity to increase eligibility for the state's publicly funded child care program from 130% of the Federal Poverty Level to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. Read our child care budget fact sheet to learn more about why there is an urgent need to increase access to quality child care. Take action today by contacting your Senator urging their support for expanding eligibility by clicking here.


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