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Columbus Investing $3.5 Million To Help Cost Of Childcare Programs, Hiring Workers

Three boys complete puzzles at a childcare program
Nick Evans

Columbus is directing $3.5 million from the American Rescue Plan to local childcare centers, to boost hiring and reduce costs for lower-income families.

City leaders point to recent research suggesting lack of childcare is one of the biggest barriers preventing workers from returning to the labor force. The city will put half a million dollars toward hiring incentives, so providers have the staffing to welcome more kids.

However Mayor Andrew Ginther said the bulk of the funding is earmarked for reducing attendance costs.

“These scholarships will help families who are above the poverty line but still living paycheck to paycheck so they can continue or return, to work,” Ginther said.

The city is planning 250 of these scholarships worth up to $10,000 each. To incentivize hiring, the plan will fund 500 $1,000 hiring bonuses to recruit childcare workers. The remaining half-million dollars will be used to promote the programs.

Columbus City Councilmember Elizabeth Brown describes the investment as part of the city's efforts to promote equity.

"As we work to level the playing field for every family in our city we must prioritize investments to sustain a high quality, affordable and equitable early learning landscape that all families can access," Brown said.

City council plans to vote on the provisions in the coming weeks.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.