As the State Continues to Face Labor Shortages, Poll Finds Child Care Challenges Are Keeping Parents with Young Children Out of the Workforce
COLUMBUS, OH – In an environment where labor shortages are pervasive across the state and country, a new poll of Ohio voters and parents with children under the age of 5 finds that access to quality, affordable child care is key to getting Ohioans back to work. The poll – commissioned by Groundwork Ohio and conducted by Public Opinion Strategies – also shows that parents with children under the age of 5 care deeply about early childhood education and are willing to voice their support at the voting booth and to their elected officials.
The ongoing child care crisis has kept many parents – particularly mothers with young children – out of the workforce, hampering Ohio’s business and economic recovery. Nationally, nearly 1.8 million women have dropped out of the workforce since the start of the pandemic, and many mothers with children under the age of 5 who left the workforce have not returned.
According to the new statewide survey, nearly 60% of non-working or part-time working moms with children under the age of 5 in Ohio say they would go back to work or work more hours if they had access to quality child care for their children at a reasonable cost.
“Parents, especially moms, are telling us they need quality, affordable child care to return to work,” said Shannon Jones, President & CEO of Groundwork Ohio. “If policymakers want to solve Ohio’s workforce crisis now and in the future, they must listen to the experts – parents.”
The poll also finds that child care breakdowns are extremely disruptive to Ohio parents in the workforce and to the businesses that employ them. More than 4 in 10 working parents with children under the age of 5 say they have had to cut back on hours to care for their children in the last few months. Meanwhile, more than 1 in 3 working parents with children under the age of 5 said child care challenges have disrupted their work in recent months, causing them to either miss work, leave early, or lose focus.
Furthermore, when asked what child care means to them, both parents with and without child care most frequently answered, “work more.”
“Ohio parents with young children make a direct connection between child care and the ability to work and provide for their families,” said Neil Newhouse, Partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “This is an issue that resonates strongly with parents and voters overwhelmingly want policymakers to invest more in early childhood education.”
The statewide poll of Ohio voters and parents also revealed:
A strong majority of Ohio voters – 80% – believe child care is expensive where they live.
Ohio voters – including “strong” Republicans – want state policymakers to invest substantially more in early childhood education. When asked how the state should allocate education dollars for those who are 18 and under, Ohio voters said nearly a quarter – 24.2% – should be allocated to early childhood education. Parents with children under the age of 5 said more than 31% should be spent on early childhood education, and even “strong” Republicans said 23.4% of the state’s education budget should be spent on early childhood education.
Nearly 9 in 10 Ohio parents with children under the age of 5 said they care a great deal about early childhood education and that it would be a top factor in their vote for an elected official. Meanwhile, nearly 9 in 10 Ohio parents with children under the age of 5 said they would be willing to write a letter or call their representative about early childhood education.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put Ohioans and their families under immense strain – especially parents with young children. The vast majority of Ohio parents with children under the age of 5 – 86% – said they have undergone stress from the COVID-19 pandemic, including more than one-third who say it has caused “a lot” of stress for them and their families. Nearly 7 in 10 parents with children under the age of 5 said they are worried about the mental or emotional health of their child/children.
Investing in quality early childhood education not only benefits young children, working parents, and businesses, but it also produces a substantial return on investment for Ohio taxpayers. An analysis conducted by the University of Cincinnati Economics Center finds that expanding access to quality child care in Ohio generates a whopping 10% return on public investment annually, providing major benefits to Ohio taxpayers.
On behalf of Groundwork Ohio, Public Opinion Strategies completed a statewide survey of 800 registered voters and an oversample of 400 parents with children under the age of five in Ohio. The survey was conducted October 26-November 8, 2021 and has a margin of error of +3.46% for the registered voter sample and +4.9 for the parents oversample.
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.