COLUMBUS — The federal government is ordering Ohio to increase its publicly funded child-care rates by the end of 2024 or incur a penalty.
"We do so much on the daily basis," Toledo Day Nursery Director Julia Myers said. "So, the fact that the government is finally acknowledging what we have always known is incredibly important."
Myers told Spectrum News that child-care providers are the backbone of society.
The federal government’s order to increase wages for publicly funded child care providers could help attract more workers, Myers said. Many people interested in the duties become more attracted to public schools because of wages.
"Because when you feel heard and seen and valued, especially by the government, which doesn't always happen, you are more willing to excel in your job," she said.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it will reevaluate its rate structure to make the necessary changes by the end of 2024.
"ODJFS has been in continuous contact with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about a non-compliance notice requiring paying our publicly funded child care providers at the 50th percentile of the market rate survey," the agency said in a statement. "We will provide updates as they become availabe."
Ohio raised the threshold for child-care assistance eligibility from 142% of the federal poverty level to 145%.
Naomi Fox is the owner of the Fox's Den Childcare in Wadsworth, which is a private child-care facility.
Fox said the federal government is taking a step in the right direction, but it needs to take a closer look at the systemic problem to child care.
"It's so clear that the first five years of a child's life is crucial in setting them up for success," Fox said. "However, what we're doing caring for those zero to five-year-olds is so undervalued and so overlooked where we should be receiving just as much funding as the public school system."
Ohio’s plan will be developed between October and December and implemented by the end of 2024.