As U.S. Job Openings Reach Record High, Ohio Legislators Urged to Help Ohioans Return to the Workforce by Expanding Access to Child Care
Lack of Affordable Quality Child Care Keeps Ohioans Out of the Workforce, Hurts Businesses
COLUMBUS, OH -- Today, Groundwork Ohio joined several early childhood educators and community organizations to testify before the Ohio Senate Finance Committee on the state biennial budget (House Bill 110) and urge legislators to make quality child care more accessible to working families so that Ohioans can return to and stay in the workforce. The testimony comes days after the U.S. Labor Department issued a report revealing that U.S. employees posted a record number of available jobs in March, illustrating that many businesses are struggling to find and retain employees in part due to the lack of affordable child care options.
“Working families need relief now to return to the workforce and avail themselves of economic recovery,” said Lynanne Gutierrez, Assistant Director at Groundwork Ohio. “A recent study found that lack of child care is the third most reported reason for not working – third only to pandemic-related layoffs and furloughs due to reduced business. Families, businesses, and our state economy are suffering from the lack of access to child care.”
During the hearing, Groundwork Ohio and others on the panel urged members of the Senate Finance Committee to support an amendment to the state budget that would increase initial eligibility for Ohio’s Publicly Funded Child Care (PFCC) program to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level. Ohio’s PFCC program is an essential support for children, their families, and the businesses that count on them. This program, however, fails to support many working families and, as a consequence, it is impacting Ohio’s workforce participation.
“Businesses depend on employees, and employees need to know that their children are in a safe, nurturing environment,” said Elizabeth Hibbs, Director of the Early Childhood Education Alliance, in prepared testimony. “Unfortunately, many Ohio families cannot afford quality child care or it isn’t available to them.”
Under Ohio's current eligibility of 130% of the Federal Poverty Level, a single parent of an infant and a 4-year-old who earns more than $28,236 a year (more than $13.57 an hour) earns too much to qualify for child care assistance. As a result, this parent has no choice but to drop out of the workforce altogether because the cost of child care leaves them with too little remaining income to support their family. Ohio currently ranks near the very bottom among states when it comes to the eligibility level for child care assistance.
“Families are being denied the chance to succeed at work and become self- sufficient because they can’t afford quality child care,” said Dawn Blalock, Program Manager at Little Miracles Early Development Center, in prepared testimony. “Having worked in a child care program for over 15 years, I have seen many families denied child care benefits because of eligibility.”
“At a time when Ohio needs all those in the workforce to engage, a lack of high-quality child care should not be what holds a parent down from moving up the career ladder,” said Katie Kelly, Executive Director of PRE4CLE, in prepared testimony.
Click here to watch a new video released by Groundwork Ohio featuring business leaders on why access to quality child care is a key workforce issue.
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.