COLUMBUS – Some Ohio families pay more than half of their salaries to cover the cost of child care, according to a new report that examines solutions to what it calls a child care crisis in America.
The Economic Policy Institute’s findings highlight how high quality child care is out of reach for many families.
Michael Shields, a researcher with Policy Matters Ohio, explains that in Ohio, care for a single infant costs about $9,000 a year – about 15 percent of the median family’s budget.
He says that means child care is not affordable for more than two-thirds of Ohio families.
“Once we start looking at low-income families, the costs really become just insurmountable,” he points out. “A minimum-wage worker in the state – someone in that situation is earning about $17,000 per year and paying out $9,000 for infant care. That’s more than 53 percent of that family’s income.”
Shields says better investments in early childhood care and education at the state and national level would reduce financial hardships for families and give children a foundation for a successful future.
The report recommends expanded public funding for home visits by nurses to help new parents, subsidies for affordable high-quality child care and publicly funded preschool.
Ohio has programs at the state level to help lower-income families afford child care, but Shields contends Ohio is moving away from increasing access for families with initial eligibility at 135 percent of the poverty level.
“That’s a really low figure, but if we would increase that, actually to a number that it was at within the last several years, to 200 percent of the poverty level, then we’re starting to cover more families,” he states. “That would cover families who are earning up to about $40,000 a year.”
Shields says the child care crisis also is a problem for child care workers themselves.
The report finds the median child care worker in Ohio earns under $20,000 dollars a year, and would spend about 46 percent of earnings on care for one infant.
The findings suggest public investment that enables providers to pay wages that support qualified professional staff.