The Child Care Problem- Families and Communities: Underserved and Overburdened

Understanding high child care costs and the community impact

Northeast Ohio is experiencing a child care crisis.

On the one hand, the rising cost of child care is a significant problem for families. Northeast Ohio families are finding it increasingly difficult to afford child care and are seeking alternative options to support their children.

On the other, child care programs charge a significant amount of money. Still, they cannot pay their caregivers a competitive wage and are concerned about the industry’s sustainability.

So, why is child care so expensive, and why are many programs struggling financially?

The cost of child care

In Ohio, the average rent is $1,250. The average monthly cost for care is over $800 per child – and the average is even higher for infant and toddler care. These costs add up quickly for families, especially those with multiple children. To make matters worse, child care rates often exceed what Ohio public funds pay for children on child care subsidies. Current eligibility levels for publicly funded child care (PFCC) for families in Ohio is one of the lowest levels in the nation, with eligibility at 145% of the poverty level. This translates to just under $43,500 per year, for a family of four.

In Northeast Ohio, over 75% of mothers with children under 6 years old are in the workforce. A staggering 188,027 children under 6 years old in Northeast Ohio are in families where all parents in the household work, emphasizing the critical role of child care in supporting working families. National and local media have highlighted how lack of affordable child care can be a barrier to parents, especially women, returning to the workforce.

The need for child care is great, but with rising costs and sustainability concerns for programs, families and caregivers must be proactive to ensure a sustainable future for high-quality child care.

What do these costs mean for the average family?

Family Support

There are options for families in need of financial assistance. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services’ Publicly Funded Child Care program assists parents who are working or in school with child care costs. Head Start provides services for children and families in areas such as early learning, health, and well-being.

More information on financial assistance programs can be found on the Starting Point website, where individuals can use our financial calculator to determine the best assistance options for their families. We also encourage anyone with questions to call Starting Point at 216-575-0061 to connect with one of our Family Resource Navigators.

Child Care: A Smart Investment

There are many factors for why child care is so expensive, including rising costs for food and supplies, workforce shortages, and changes in subsidy eligibility. Addressing these issues requires a collaborative effort from policymakers, child care programs, and community members to ensure all families can access affordable, high-quality child care options. Prioritizing investments in early childhood education and supporting the child care workforce is critical for Ohio’s families and child care programs.

The challenges programs face are part of a larger problem.

Read more: The Child Care Problem

This article is the second 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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