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Study: Ohio's child care industry is among state's largest

It's mid-morning at the Westside-Eastside day care center on Grubb Street in Franklinton. Five pre-schoolers sing along to a Stephen Gray version of the Three Little Pigs. The children are among 65 pre-schoolers enrolled at the center or about half the center's capacity. Director, Charlotte Stille, says 90 percent of the families who use Westside-Eastside get funding help from the state to enroll their children. But, in recent years, co-pays have increased leaving both parents and child care providers in a financial pinch.

While co-pays for parents have increased and government re-imbursements to child care centers have decreased in the past several years. The National Economic Development and Law Center says Ohio's Early Child Care and Education industry received 969-million dollars in state and federal government funds in 2003. United Way of Central Ohio President, Janet Jackson, says her organization has worked to improve the quality and capacity of affordable childcare and early education. Jackson says she'll use findings in the new study to help make a point among state legislators.

And in business terms, the new study notes that the child care and early education industry generates more gross receipts annually in Ohio than investment banking and corn production.