In protest of the Ohio Republican Legislatures’ removal of $150 million dollars in funding for child care providers, advocates and workers participated in the National Day without Childcare. They closed for the day or shut down early on Monday to call attention to the necessity for more child care funding in the state budget and better wages for providers. “All of us are standing in solidarity to draw attention to the national crisis that our childcare system is in,” said Tami Lunan, the Care Economy Organizing Project (CEO) director.
Childcare Funding Cuts to Dewine’s Budget
According to the Ohio Capital Journal, The Ohio House recently eliminated $150 million in American Rescue Plan funds that were a part of the governor’s executive budget proposal to establish a child care scholarship for “critical occupations and other direct service professionals,” according to the budget analysis by the Legislative Service Commission.
The scholarships would have been given to those with household incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level — $60,000 for a family of four.
When asked about the deletion of funding by Cleveland.com, House Speaker Jason Stephens, a Lawrence County Republican, declined to address that move specifically. But he said the removal of the money was “part of the budgeting process,” in which the governor proposes his budget and lawmakers alter it as they see fit.
“You know, we are trying to balance all of Ohio’s needs with a budget like this,” Stephens said, noting that state expenses like education and Medicaid are growing thanks to inflation.
Providers, Advocates, and Businesses all Voice Opposition
Advocates voiced their opposition to removal of the funding, which would come from Ohio’s share of federal coronavirus aid, and be used to offer one-time payments to those workers who make less than 200% of the federal poverty line, or $60,000 per year for a family of four.Prominent business organizations, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Manufacturers Association, the Ohio Restaurant Association, and the Ohio State Medical Association, have also urged state lawmakers to approve the $150 million, along with other child-care funding included in the governor’s budget plan.
A National Crisis
The discussion surrounding childcare is not unique to Ohio. The coalition organizing the Day without Childcare seeks to call attention to what they believe is a national crisis. In an opinion piece for NewsOne, Lenice Emanuel, MLA, and leader of the Alabama Institute for Social Justice, writes,
“Child care providers perform one of the most important jobs. They work to educate the next generation, and they enable parents to work so they can provide for their own families. They support all other industries and our greater economy with the labor they provide. They deserve a living wage but very rarely see it. That is a stain on our local, state and federal governments; one we must work hard to blot out.”
He continues, “The crisis in early childhood education highlights a larger problem with how our economic system views child care – not as a public need but as a private responsibility. That means that families must pay thousands and thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to get care for their children, and many of those families can’t afford that cost. But early childhood education is a collective benefit and therefore should be a collective responsibility.”
Ohio Child Care Struggles
These issues are highlighted by the low pay and subpar working conditions of Ohio child care workers. Child care professionals in Ohio are paid a median wage of $13.15 an hour, Will Petrik, Policy Matters Ohio project director said, something he wants to bump up to $20 per hour.
“We must make sure child care professionals are paid a wage that they can live with dignity and support their own families,” he said. “They are the workforce behind the workforce.”