Report | April 10, 2024

Insufficient Infant-Toddler Child Care Costs Ohio $3.85 Billion Annually

To grow the economy, invest in child care

Ohio’s working parents know how difficult it is to find child care that’s accessible, affordable, and high-quality. This problem is particularly acute for parents of very young children, as infant and toddler care is typically the least available and most expensive. Further, children under age 3 are experiencing one of the most crucial periods of brain development.

ReadyNation’s new study found that the lack of adequate child care for infants and toddlers imposes substantial and long-lasting economic consequences in Ohio. Effects are felt by parents, businesses, and the state’s taxpayers, with an annual economic cost of $3.85 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.

Productivity challenges affect both employers and employees, with parents reporting that problems with child care hurt their efforts and/ or time commitment at work. More than half of Ohio parents surveyed reported being late for work, leaving work early, missing full days of work or being distracted at work due to child care struggles.

These challenges had predictable impacts: nearly 1 in 3 Ohio parents said they’ve been reprimanded and 15 percent have been let go or fired. As a result, Ohio families lose $2.41 billion per year in forgone earnings and job search expenses

Meanwhile, productivity problems cause Ohio employers to lose $862 million annually due to child care challenges faced by their workforce. Ohio taxpayers, in turn, lose $576 million each year in lower federal and state tax revenue.

Beyond its impact on the workforce and economy today, Ohio’s child care crisis damages the future workforce by depriving infants and toddlers of nurturing, stimulating environments that support healthy brain development while their parents work.

Policymakers must support evidence-based policies and programs that enhance the availability and affordability of high-quality child care. In particular, eligibility for child care subsidies should be increased to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, to help more families with low incomes access care. With wise investments, policymakers can improve life outcomes for thousands of Ohio children today and strengthen our state’s workforce and economy both now and in the years to come.

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