Groundwork Ohio to Submit Budget Testimony on ODJFS Funding to Support and Expand Access to Publicly Funded Child Care
Testimony Highlights Need for Investments in Quality Child Care to Support the Ohio Workforce of Today and Tomorrow
COLUMBUS, OH -- Today, Groundwork Ohio -- the state’s leading advocacy organization focused on issues impacting the prenatal period to age five -- will submit written testimony on Ohio’s FY 2022-2023 budget in support of funding for the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services’ (ODJFS) publicly funded child care program. Groundwork Ohio is also calling on legislators to expand eligibility to the state’s publicly funded child care program to serve more Ohio families.
Investing in quality child care not only supports the workforce of today, but is also an investment in the workforce of tomorrow. As the prepared testimony of Lynanne Gutierrez, Groundwork Ohio’s Assistant Director and Legal Counsel, states:
“If we want families to work, they must know their child is in a safe, nurturing environment. If they can't find quality, affordable child care, or if they don't believe their children are well taken care of while they're on the job, most parents will do what you or I would do — they will quit or they will call in sick… You simply cannot talk about workforce development without talking about both the workforce of today and the workforce of tomorrow through a child care lens.”
Groundwork Ohio’s testimony emphasizes the importance of making quality child care affordable to more families by expanding eligibility for Ohio’s publicly funded child care program. Currently, child care is only available to individuals earning under 130% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). For a family of three -- such as a mom and two young children -- this means earning a yearly salary of $28,236 or less.
As a result, many workers who earn just above the eligibility threshold must choose between spending a significant portion of their income on quality child care, finding cheaper but potentially unsafe or lower-quality care options, or dropping out of the workforce to become a full-time caregiver.
Groundwork Ohio is calling on legislators to commit to expanding eligibility for Ohio’s publicly funded child care program to 200% FPL, and to start by increasing eligibility to 150% FPL in FY22. By expanding eligibility, legislators have the opportunity to keep Ohioans working, help more families break out of poverty, and ensure more Ohio children have access to high-quality early childhood education.
Additionally, Groundwork Ohio’s testimony urges legislators to consider how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the child care crisis and increased the need for additional federal and state investment:
“Child care continues to be in crisis. Child care programs were not adequately funded prior to the pandemic and costs to operate child care programs have increased substantially to accommodate COVID-19-safe environments… The realities of the child care business model and the low-wage workforce on which it relies are not only a call to action for increased federal and state investment in our child care system, but a poignant reminder that any potential cuts to Ohio’s quality child care system at a time when operations cost more than ever, can simply not be sustained without significant loss of capacity.”
“As we continue to build upon the strong framework of our quality early childhood system, we must do so while creating sustainable funding for our system. While child care, given its foundational role in the state and national workforce and economy, has benefited from federal emergency dollars, we will not able to secure long-term sustainability for our system without new state resources.”
To read Groundwork Ohio’s written testimony to the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services regarding ODJFS, please see the attached document.
Ohio Groundwork Ohio is a committed, nonpartisan public-policy research and advocacy organization formed in 2004 that champions high-quality early learning and healthy development strategies from the prenatal period to age five, that lay a strong foundation for Ohio kids, families and communities. Learn more about Groundwork Ohio at groundworkohio.org and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.