Ohio Child Care Troubles: The State Ranks at the Bottom

Ohio’s child care system is in trouble, according to several recent reports. Cleveland.com recently reported that Ohio Ranks dead last nationally for subsidizing child care up to age 5. The federal government also ordered the State of Ohio to rethink its rate structure for publicly funded child care or face a penalty. Affordable care and a dearth of child care workers combine to make it very difficult for Ohio parents to access quality child care.

According to  Zachary Smith of Cleveland.com, Ohio’s threshold for receiving child care subsidies of 145% of the federal poverty level ranks at or near the bottom nationally. While Gov. Mike DeWine initially called for expanding eligibility to 160% of the poverty line, Republican lawmakers significantly decreased this amount in favor of significant income tax cuts for higher-income people, leaving 15,000 Ohio children without funding.

The First Five Years commissioned a poll through Public Opinion Strategies on voter attitudes on child care and early childhood education, and 93% of Ohioans participating “believe it is important for working parents of young children to be able to find and afford quality child care programs.” The poll results showed bipartisan sentiment, with overwhelming majorities of Republican, Democrat and independent voters supporting affordable quality child care. 

74% of Ohio voters agreed that “increasing funding for child care and early childhood education programs is an important priority and a good use of tax dollars…” and 58% say that resources directed to child care and early learning programs benefit both the individual family/children and the overall community,” according to reporting from the Ohio Capital Journal.

Despite this, Ohio’s lawmakers approved budget funding that “falls short in supporting affordable child care, expanding Medicaid to more children who need it and providing scholarships to children who have been in the foster care system,” according to Kim Eckhart, director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio.

Even if parents can afford child care, they often struggle to find quality care. The federal government has stepped in to address the shortage of child care workers in Ohio. The federal government ordered Ohio to increase wages for publicly funded child care providers. This could help attract more workers, according to administrators like Toledo Day Nursery Director Julia Myers. She told Spectrum News, “We do so much on the daily basis, so the fact that the government is finally acknowledging what we have always known is incredibly important.” Many people interested in the duties become more attracted to public schools because of wages.

Spectrum News’ Samana Sheik reports that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it will reevaluate its rate structure to make the necessary changes by the end of 2024.

“ODJFS has been in continuous contact with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about a non-compliance notice requiring paying our publicly funded child care providers at the 50th percentile of the market rate survey,” the agency said in a statement. “We will provide updates as they become available.”


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: