40 Ohio day cares sue to end coronavirus limitations

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW)– A lawsuit was filed on behalf of 40 Ohio day cares to end the state’s limits on the number of students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law is representing the childcare centers against former Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and current director Lance Himes. Northeast Ohio facilities in the suit include Webbers Kids in Eastlake, Gresham Education Group in Akron, KidsFirst Learning Centers in Cleveland, Positive Beginnings Childcare in Euclid and Le Chaperon Rouge in Westlake.

(Click the video player below for our story from May on the costs facing Ohio day cares)

“The Ohio Constitution protects Ohioans from unelected government administrators attempting to override statutes passed by elected representatives, no matter what the rationale,” said Maurice Thompson, executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, in a news release on Tuesday.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Acton ordered day cares closed on March 26 as part of a series of shutdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The facilities could apply temporary pandemic childcare license that prioritized space for kids of essential workers.

On May 1, the centers were allowed to reopen with the following mandates:

  • One child care staff member per four infants with no more than six children in the room.
  • One child care staff member per six toddlers with no more than six children in the room.
  • One child care staff member per nine preschool children with no more than nine children in the room.
  • One child care staff member per nine school-age children with no more than nine children in the room.

“These regulations are particularly pernicious because they limit child care options for parents needing to return to work, dramatically raise the costs of these options, and threaten to bankrupt Ohio daycares,” Thompson said.

Sandra Webber, who works at Little Learners Too in Eastlake, said the new rules have made it very difficult for day cares to operate.

“We are not looking to pack our classrooms,” Webber said. “We are just looking for more reasonable consideration for ratios and per room requirements; we want to serve our community.”

She said they have a number of parents on a waiting list because the new rules reduce how many children they can have at the center.

“It’s difficult because we have to pick and choose and there are parents that need to go to work and need help,” Webber said.

She said it’s been financially difficult as well because when they had to shut their doors, they still had to pay the bills.

We did reach out to the Ohio Department of Health to discuss the lawsuits, but a spokeswoman said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Read the full lawsuit here

The case is pending in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

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