CLEVELAND (WJW) — A temporary state-issued benefit helping 90,000 children and their families afford childcare is set to end this July according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Families receiving publicly funded childcare benefit co-payment waivers will soon have to pay more money. However, details will vary for each family depending on gross income, the federal poverty level, and family size.
“Research that we at Community Solutions completed before the pandemic found that in Ohio, those childcare co-payments were so large that they ate up any extra earnings that people received so as they got a raise, they had to pay more for childcare,” said Emily Campbell, COO at The Center for Community Solutions.
An ODJFS spokesperson said it paid $48 million in co-pays since the temporary program started last May.
The change comes as childcare costs continue to soar and care becomes difficult to find with many parents forced to sign up for wait lists as they hope for an opening at a desired facility.
“There’s not enough childcare to meet the demand, and that’s for a whole host of reasons. One, the pandemic really impacted the system. There are fewer programs in the system,” said Anne Hedgepeth, Chief of Policy and Advocacy at ChildCare Aware of America. “We also know that childcare is too expensive. Families face high prices, and for many of them, that means really difficult choices when it comes to their economic security. So combined, I think the childcare system’s really struggling.”
Campbell said childcare costs continue to burden families at all socio-economic levels with some leaving the workforce to care for young children. She cited recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau where more than 120,000 people in Ohio were not working specifically because they were caring for children not in school or daycare.
“We’re talking about higher middle and higher income people who are spending huge amounts of their income just on child care, for many people, it’s not worth it,” said Campbell. “So they’re putting their own careers and futures on hold in order to stay home with their children.”
On average according to ChildCare Aware of America, a national nonprofit, it costs Ohio families $10,000 dollars per year to put an infant in a childcare center. The price for an infant to receive home-based care is about $7,600 dollars.
“Even the smallest increases in the price of childcare can lead a family to have to make different decisions about whether they’re using childcare,” said Hedgepeth. “Whether they’re borrowing money and incurring debt to be able to afford it, or whether they’re able to do things like put food on the table. Those are absolutely untenable choices for so many families.”