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White, Roemer Legislation Looks to Solve Child Care Crisis

A grant fund will be created to establish employer-based childcare facilities.
April 9, 2024
Bill Roemer News

COLUMBUS –State Representatives Andrea White (R-Kettering) and Bill Roemer (R-Richfield) today introduced legislation to stimulate public private partnerships designed to increase access to on-site and near-site child care for Ohio families and employers.  The bill creates a new state grant fund and training initiatives to help employers partner with child care providers, non-profit, government and community organizations to expand affordable, quality options to meet workforce needs.

The proposed legislation would allocate just over $10 million for Public-Private Partnership Child Care Grants and the creation of an Employer-Based Design Learning Lab, toolkit and other resources to increase affordable, quality child care capacity near Ohio businesses and work sites.    The initiative would be administered by the Department of Children and Youth, in conjunction with JobsOhio and the Department of Development.  Grants will be capped at $750,000 per grantee to assist employers in retrofitting or equipping their onsite or near-site child care facilities, building new child care facilities, or partnering with other providers, government entities, or non-profits on community initiatives to increase child care capacity.

“Our goal is to support our workforce by helping employers and community partners develop innovative, affordable, locally-tailored child care solutions in communities across Ohio,” White said.  “It’s no secret that Ohio is experiencing a child care crisis right now, which in turn creates enormous challenges for businesses seeking to attract workers and sustain economic growth.  It’s an issue that impacts not only the workforce of today, but the developing young workforce of tomorrow who need access to quality early learning.  Only 35% of our children are entering kindergarten ready to learn. That’s why we need to act now to help our communities partner together to solve this problem – both for our families and for our businesses.”

Currently, the average cost of center-based child care for Ohio families ranges from $8,580 to $11,438 per year depending on the age of the child. For example, a mom with two young children – an infant and a preschooler – would spend almost $10 an hour on child care alone, making a return to work unaffordable for many Ohioans.  A recent survey found 70 percent of working moms would return to work or work more if they had access to child care at a more reasonable cost.

“We are diligently working to create a space where families can afford child care without leaving the workforce altogether,” said Roemer. “If the imbalance of wages to child care costs remains, our workforce will continue to see shortages. We don’t want to negate the work Ohio has done to become a business-friendly state with numerous job opportunities for families to thrive. We must continue to work with parents and businesses to establish affordable on-site and near-site child care facilities.”

This legislation comes in response to a recommendation included in the final report of the Study Committee on Ohio’s Publicly Funded Child Care and Step-Up to Quality Program- co-chaired in the 134th General Assembly by White and Senator Jerry Cirino (R-Kirtland).  During that Study Committee, many business leaders, child care partners and families cited lack of access to quality, affordable child care and subsequently lack of workforce availability as urgent problems throughout communities in Ohio.

The legislation awaits a bill number and committee assignment.