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Child care facilities in Ohio close down for the day as workers call for change in state policy

Attendees at a rally on affordable child care hold signs on May 13, 2024.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Attendees at a rally on affordable child care hold signs on May 13, 2024.

Hundreds of child care facilities in Ohio closed on Monday and their workers rallied at the Statehouse to draw attention to what’s becoming a crisis for parents – finding affordable day care. And employees at child care centers are struggling too.

Workers from child care centers around the state stood in the sunshine with signs outside the Statehouse, chanting "care not cuts" and "show me the money!" More than 250 child care providers and facilities were reportedly closed down in cities across Ohio.

Advocates for changes to reimbursements to Ohio's child care providers say they're the lowest in the country. The federal government has ordered Ohio to increase those rates by the end of 2024 or the state will be penalized.

Families in publicly funded child care facilities have a co-payment to those facilities based on their income. Keta Smith of Columbus heads up a family of four.

“I still struggle with paying my co-payment. In some situations, I have to decide whether I'm going to pay my co-payment or my utilities bills," Smith said. "If the co-payments can go away, I think that will help many families. If we can get these providers up to $20 or more, that would help many families."


Nefree Cooke of Cincinnati was among those calling for lawmakers to increase those rates, subsidize providers based on enrollment and not attendance, and waive co-payments for parents. And she offered this warning.

"We know what the issues are. We have licensing issues. We have reimbursement issues. We have wage theft. We know what the problems are. But guess what? We're going to take it to the ballot," Cooke shouted to the crowd. "Ohio politicians, hear us right now. Show us the money. Show us that you care about Ohio's children. Show us that you care about us.”

Gov. Mike DeWine wants to create a child care voucher program to help 8,000 more families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level, or $60,000 for a family of four. But no legislation has been proposed.

The Statehouse rally, part of what was called a "Day Without Child Care" across the country, was brought together by the Care Economy Organizing (CEO) Project.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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