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Business & Economy

New report says central Ohio child care providers having 'reckoning, not recovery'

Amy McCoy serves lunch to preschoolers at her Forever Young Daycare facility, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Mountlake Terrace, Wash.
Elaine Thompson
Child care centers once operated under the promise that they would always be there when parents have to work. Now, each teacher resignation, coronavirus exposure, and daycare center closure reveal an industry on the brink, with wide-reaching implications for an entire economy's workforce.

A new report says most central Ohio child care providers are still struggling to find workers.

The report from Action for Children says central Ohio child care providers are showing modest signs of improvement in revenue and enrollment, but not enough. It says 81% of local providers are still short-staffed and 55% have had to raise tuition since last September.

The report says short-staffing creates a domino effect that limits enrollment and forces daycares to increase costs to stay in business.

“We are at a critical inflection point,” said Eric Karolak, Action for Children’s CEO, in an emailed statement.

“Central Ohio is experiencing tremendous economic growth. At the same time, the child care industry, which underpins the workforce of today while preparing the workforce of tomorrow, is undervalued, underinvested in, and unsustainable. To ensure that our region is prepared to meet this moment, we must build on the strengths of the child care sector and reverse the troubling trends outlined in this report by investing in the early childhood workforce, child care access for families, and quality early learning experiences,” Karolak wrote.

The "Reckoning, Not Recovery" report is based on a survey sent to 1,258 child care programs in the seven counties surrounding Columbus. Action for Children collected 315 responses from 189 centers and 126 family child care programs.

Day care centers were decimated by early pandemic shutdowns that forced most of them to close their doors and put strict limits on enrollment when they were able to reopen.

Many centers also remain limited by what they pay.

The career website Indeed say the average pay for central Ohio child care workers is $14.60.

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