Families need child care that is affordable, accessible, and high-quality. Unfortunately, too many working Ohioans with young children cannot afford quality child care. Child care is a major expense for families and can cost a family with an infant and toddler more than $18,000 a year. As a result, many working parents have no choice but to drop out of the workforce and become full-time caregivers because the cost of child care leaves them with too little expendable income to support their family.
Child care is essential to keeping our workforce, businesses, and communities running, which is why it is so critical to ensure that more families have access to quality child care. Today, the Ohio House Families, Aging, and Human Services Committee held a hearing on House Bill 145, a bipartisan bill that would do just that by expanding initial eligibility for the Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) program from 130% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 200% of the FPL.
HB 145 – which was introduced by Representative Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) and Representative Andrea White (R-Kettering) – is receiving strong support from business leaders, child care and early childhood professionals, health care providers, parents, community organizations, local elected officials, and more.
Ohio's Publicly Funded Child Care is an essential support for working families, but the program fails to support many low-income working families. In fact, Ohio has one of the most restrictive eligibility standards for child care assistance in the nation, leaving many low-income families with no child care support to help them remain in the workforce.
By expanding eligibility to 200% FPL -- as proposed by HB 145 -- state legislators can ensure more Ohioans have the work support they need to provide for their families and businesses have a thriving workforce. “Child care is critical to working parents, especially to working mothers and single-parent households. Unfortunately, too many Ohio families cannot afford quality child care, forcing many parents to leave the workforce altogether,” said Representative Mary Lightbody. “A strong workforce and quality child care go hand-in-hand, which is why we must make child care accessible to the families who need it most. This is keeping with our promise that family comes first.”
“For our workforce, businesses, and young children to thrive, we must do more to ensure Ohio families have access to quality, affordable child care,” said Representative Andrea White. “Our child care crisis is holding too many families back from reaching financial independence. Expanding access to quality child care supports our workforce while giving young kids – our future workforce – the early learning they need to start school on track."
Groundwork Ohio joined nearly 40 organizations and individuals to testify in support of HB 145 and urge state legislators to support the bill. Read the excerpts below to see why Ohio leaders favor expanding access to quality, affordable child care:
David Melin, PNC regional president for Dayton, on behalf of PNC and its six other regional presidents covering Ohio
“PNC supports bolstering Ohio’s Publicly Funded Child Care program, which currently is available only to the poorest of low-income families — those whose earnings fall 130% below the Federal Poverty Level. An increase in support is more critical than ever before as the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt child care and early education a significant blow, while also highlighting child care’s vital role in a healthy economy.”
Stephanie Keinath, Vice President
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
“For our members, and the business community as a whole, access to high quality child care is a critical workforce issue…By making more workers eligible for help paying for child care, the State of Ohio can provide critical supports to working families so that they can keep working or return to the workforce.”
Chris Burns, Marketing and Education Manager Encore Technologies, on behalf of ReadyNation
“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 145 addresses the need to increase the states investment in our working families and the future of our children.”
Holly Hankinson, Advocacy Director Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation
“Ensuring access to affordable and high-quality child care is necessary to reopening the economy in a post-pandemic world. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating on our economy and workers; working parents and mothers in particular have been disproportionately affected…In order for these parents to return to work and help reopen the economy, it is critical that they have access to affordable child care.”
Holly Gross, Vice President of Government Relations Columbus Chamber of Commerce
“In the Columbus Region right now, there are nearly 20,000 unfilled jobs that typically require on-site participation, such as positions in the healthcare, manufacturing, logistics and construction industries. We need public policy solutions to help employers tap into the talent they need, and House Bill 145 would accomplish that goal by allowing more parents the opportunity to work.”
Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice, on behalf of herself, Commissioner Deborah A. Lieberman, and Commissioner Judy Dodge
“Children only have one chance at early childhood. We need to seize that opportunity and ensure that all children have access to quality early learning experiences.”
Mike Baker, Chief Strategy Officer United Way of Greater Cincinnati
“We have made great advances in the quality of child care in Ohio, where 100% of our centers are participating in the Step Up to Quality rating system and nearly half are highly rated. Now we have to provide stable state funding to support the quality we have developed and make it accessible to the families who need it.”
Dawn Blalock, Education Operations Manager Little Miracles Early Development Center
“Childcare is the backbone of our society and we are considered the workforce behind the workforce…In its current state, childcare desperately needs this increase to see enrollment retention in childcare programs and allow highly rated center to expand because the need would grow.”
Katie Kelly, Executive Director PRE4CLE
"The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare many of the weaknesses in our early education system, leaving us with an opportunity to build a newly resilient system that offers greater access to reliable, affordable high-quality care and education to children and their families as parents head back to work…Just as parents need roads and bridges to go to work, they also need affordable high-quality child care.”
Patricia Gleason, Chief Operating Officer Learning Grove
“We see every day the toll that an underfunded child care system takes on working parents struggling to make ends meet, on businesses who can’t recruit and retain employees who don’t have child care, and on child care workers whose salaries are so low that they qualify for a child care subsidy for their own children…Ohio should follow other states and increase initial eligibility to 200% FPL in FY2022.”
Jessica A. Nash, MD Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
“If we do not contribute more to the early years for our children, we place them at an unfair disadvantage in their road to success…This is an opportunity that we cannot miss. Supporting this bill will support our children, hard-working families, and our economy. Ohio’s children need and deserve a strong foundation and investing in early childhood education will help to establish this strong foundation and a chance at lifelong success.”
Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood – Invest in Children
“Raising the income threshold as proposed to 200 percent of the federal poverty level would be a major step in meeting the needs of the many hard working Ohio families in our community seeking to give their children the best start in life.”