The Child Care Problem

Child Care programs in Northeast Ohio are facing impossible, interconnected problems.

Starting Point is committed to advocating for high-quality child care for everyone in our community. Our team recently conducted the 2023 Workforce Survey for child care programs to understand the challenges and limitations they are facing. From staffing shortages to financial uncertainty, the results of the survey show the need for solutions to sustain quality child care.

The data shows us that programs have pressing issues.

Enrollment Concerns

Over 70% of respondents are dealing with low enrollment with capacities below 75%. This trend raises concerns about providers being able to maintain ideal enrollment while providing quality care.

Staffing Shortfalls

Despite the pivotal role educators play, teachers are being paid much less than those in other lines of work. According to respondents, teachers on staff holding a Child Development Associate (CDA) or higher are earning an average of $15-16 an hour, and those with a Bachelor’s degree or higher are averaging $17 an hour.

Financial Struggles

90% of respondents increased their program tuitions to cover expenses above a standard annual increase in 2023, making it more difficult for families to afford quality child care.

What Program Administrators are saying:

What are the consequences of these trends?

The Importance of Quality Child Care

The early years of a child’s life are not just a period of growth, but also a foundation for how their future is shaped. Quality child care plays a crucial role in shaping the cognitive and emotional development of children. Their well-being and long-term success as they grow is determined in large part by how they are taught and relationships with responsive caregivers. Quality child care programs not only prepare children for formal education, but also promote curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Children who receive high-quality early education are more likely to perform well in school and ultimately thrive in both their professional and social lives.

Quality child care is not only important for children, but also for parents. Access to reliable child care allows parents to pursue employment and education, leading to financial stability for their families. According to survey respondents, one of the main reasons families are not returning or finishing enrollment is parents not working or going to school. Parents unable to work or seek higher education can lead to financial issues and can ultimately hurt the well-being of their family. Giving parents the opportunity to provide for their family while giving their children high-quality child care is critical for long-term success. 

The Future of High-Quality Care

For many child care providers, the uncertainty about the future of their child care program is looming large. Most respondents said they were very concerned about their program closing in the next 6 months due to loss of income and/or staff. What makes this even more unsettling is the majority of respondents operate a program with a high-quality Step Up to Quality rating. Even the best child care agencies are having major operational issues, making the need for increased advocacy and awareness for affordable and sustainable child care even greater.

The data and feedback from this survey emphasize the urgent need for comprehensive support and advocacy for child care. Starting Point is committed to finding innovative solutions to the challenges child care programs and families are facing. Part 2 of our blog series will highlight creative solutions other communities have used to address these critical challenges.

Addressing the issues providers are facing, from staffing shortages to financial uncertainty, is critical for the future of our children and those who care for them. As caregivers, educators, and community members, we must recognize the importance of quality child care and ensure that children and families have access to the types of opportunities they need to thrive.

The challenges programs face are part of a larger problem.

The Child Care Problem

The struggles programs face are interconnected. From issues in the community, like lack of high-quality care, to issues for families, like the high cost of child care, and with the workforce, when caregivers leave the job market. They have no simple market solutions.

Instead, they require public and private sector investment and support to address.

Read More: The Child Care Problem

Coming Soon: "Families and Communities: Underserved and Overburdened"

This article is the first piece in our newest blog series,  “The Child Care Problem,” where Starting Point’s experts weigh in on the unique issues facing child care and explore solutions that involve public and private sector support. 

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