Ohio Issue Spotlight – Affordable, Accessible Child Care

This blog post is the second in a series of issue spotlights we’ll be sharing over the next few weeks to highlight the findings of our State Legislative Scorecard project. Be sure to check out the first blog post in the series, highlighting how state leaders can address domestic and sexual violence in Ohio.

Infant school boy pointing in a book held by the female teacher, sitting with kids on chairs in the classroom, close up

Ohio Issue Spotlight: Child Care

THEN: C grade — Incremental progress made to increase the affordability of child care, but missed great opportunity to make substantial change. 

The rising costs and lack of access to quality child care is a growing issue facing working women and families in Ohio today.

In the long term, our children are better set up for success when they receive quality early childcare. In the short term, working parents need affordable, accessible child care to be successful and remain active in the workforce. It is a key workforce tool to help keep parents, especially women, in the workforce and support their economic security. 

Unfortunately, being able to afford high-quality child care can be out of reach for many working families, particularly for women working in low-wage jobs as child care costs can be more than half of their wages.

The rising cost of child care is leaving far too many families without options, threatening the economic stability of women and their families, or pushing women out of the workforce entirely to take on caregiving duties at home.

However, last legislative session, there was a missed opportunity by lawmakers during the state budget process to make substantial progress on increasing accessibility and affordability of childcare. While we saw some incremental changes to improve access, there was so much more left on the table. 

NOW: Increased attention and commitment to enact legislation that will make child care more affordable and accessible for low- and moderate-income families.

Kalitha Williams with Policy Matters Ohio sees some hopeful progress on this issue for the current legislative session during the state budget process. The governor has made a commitment to increasing the eligibility threshold for child care support from 130 percent to 150 percent of the poverty line. We are hopeful that the House and Senate will remain supportive of these changes in the state budget bill in conference committee. 

However, Ohio still has one of the most restrictive public child care policies in the country. In order to truly reach all low-income families and support increased access to quality childcare, the threshold needs to increase to 200 percent. We continue to advocate for this change in the state budget. 

This post is the second in a series of blog postings we will be publishing to provide a deep dive into the ‘Then’ and ‘Now’ of what our State Legislature has done on core issues affecting women and families. Stay tuned throughout the summer for current updates on child care, paid leave, maternal health, and reproductive health care. For additional information on our Statehouse Scorecard Report, take a look at the resources below: