The bipartisan American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), passed by the Biden administration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been transformative for state and local governments. In Ohio, over 5 billion dollars in federal funds were spent to support communities and families, including providing subsidies for childcare. Now that the funds are set to run out, advocates fear the state will not continue to support these programs and families will lose out.
ARPA Funds Used to Support Families
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ARPA tracker, the state of Ohio has spent 92% of the allotted 5.4 billion dollars in ARPA funds. A portion of these funds were used to provide subsidies to Ohio families and child care providers. These funds helped to stabilize and improve an already struggling child care system in Ohio. Now that the funds are soon to run out, it is up to the state government to fill the gaps.
Governor Dewine’s proposed state budget provided 150 million dollars in funding for child care scholarship funds; however, the most recent Republican Senate budget removed those funds. The governor has urged the Senate to put the funding back into the final budget, but at this point there has been no indication they will do so.
State Lawmakers Cut Funding for Child Care from Proposed Bills
Child care and family advocates are bewildered and concerned about the implications for Ohio families losing this critical support. A study conducted by the Century Foundation warns of a “Child Care Cliff” with 32 million children losing child care nationally. Ohio is estimated to lose almost 135,000 spots due to over 2,000 facilities closing.
Cleveland.com’s Zachary Smith reported that Ohio would lose $9.7 million in state income tax alone and 6,306 childcare jobs, nearly half of the 12,849 person workforce in 2021. This loss of jobs would disproportionately affect women, especially women of color. The loss of federal funds is estimated to drive the already high costs of more than $10,000 per year on average up, forcing families to make difficult decisions, which would in turn impact the labor market and state income tax earnings. In Ohio estimated lost earnings will be $342 million.
Ohio Republican Lawmakers are currently negotiating on the final state budget, which Governor Dewine plans to sign by June 30th.