4C For Children provides child care resources for 15 counties in Southwest Ohio, including Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble and Warren. State-licensed in-home centers can accept publicly funded child care vouchers, Rahman said.
Community Development Block Grant funds would help create more sites while giving working families more child care more options, helping them to get or keep jobs, Rahman said.
“We found that so many people were having issues with retaining or maintaining jobs and being able to pay rent because something was happening in their child care situation,” she said. “So, we’re going to be able to help some ... working families.”
In-home centers “are typically a little more flexible” with operating hours, Rahman said. “So, people that work that second shift may be able to utilize those home settings more.”
Quality child care is needed across 4C’s service area, said Paige Runion, the group’s strategic director of business services.
“Child care is a crucial part of each community’s infrastructure that ensures working parents can be at work, employers have the talent needed to run businesses and both can contribute to the local economy,” Runion said in an email.
“Parents’ abilities to work have long been dependent on the availability of reliable and affordable, quality child care,” she added. “Take any one of these out of the equation, and family stability and long-term employability are affected.”
Kettering City Council on Tuesday night approved $100,000 for the pilot program. It will pay for inspections, background checks, health care safety requirements, education materials, general business training and limited capital expenses, Rahman said.
The program will start this fall, possibly by next week, and be funded for about a year, she added. Kettering would receive quarterly reports and monitor the program, Rahman said.
“If it works well, we may continue it, or it might be a one-off,” she said. “We don’t know what our funding looks like going into 2024.”
Local parents can pay as much as 19.8% of their county’s median family income for child care.
Some families report waiting up to six months for a child care slot to open, and it is particularly difficult to find evening and weekend care. Availability became more limited after many child care providers closed permanently during the COVID-19 pandemic, and staffing shortages mean some of those that remain open accept fewer kids.
Record numbers of women left the workforce during the pandemic, resulting in nearly 2.23 million fewer women in the labor force in 2021 than in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last year women began returning, but as of March the number of women not in the labor force was still 1.4 million higher than pre-pandemic.
Staff Writer Lynn Hulsey contributed to this report.