COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus leaders announced more than $3 million from the American Rescue Plan will fund child care initiatives for the city.  

Mayor Andrew Ginther, along with other city leaders announced Monday that $3.5 million in funding will go to help working families and address labor shortages in the child care industry.  

“As the pandemic continues, working families across Columbus, like much of the nation, still face significant hurdles when reentering the workforce, especially when trying to secure affordable, reliable child care,” said Mayor Ginther. “By dedicating these resources to reduce their costs, as well as help the industry increase capacity to meet demand, we are providing vital relief to individuals and families doing their best to lead happy, healthy and productive lives during what remains a very challenging and uncertain time.”

“Families in Columbus deserve affordable, convenient child care and early-learning choices,” said Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin. “Not only are these critical investments for the development of Columbus’ youngest residents, but they give families the flexibility to earn more and build a better life.”

According to a release from the city, the Ohio Association of Child Care Providers is reporting that 76% of Ohio child care centers currently have openings to hire new staff, while 61% have either closed or reduced classroom sizes due to personnel shortages.

The city will be dedicating $500,000 to fund 500 one-time $1,000 signing bonuses to help child care centers recruit new teachers or rehire those who previously left the labor market. Another $500,000 will support a marketing campaign to assist in recruitment efforts. Both initiatives will be led and administered by Action for Children, a child care resource and referral agency for central Ohio.

The city will also devote $2.5 million for 250 scholarships of up to $10,000 for low-income families earning too much to qualify for child care subsides.

“Access to high-quality, affordable child care is one of the greatest challenges families face and often is a barrier to economic mobility for low-income moms and dads,” said Franklin County Commissioner Erica C. Crawley. “This is a workforce issue particularly for mothers, whose salaries are adversely impacted throughout their careers, due to their disproportionate childrearing responsibilities. This announcement today works well with Franklin County’s efforts to ensure our children have access to high-quality child care.”

Legislation authorizing the use of these funds will be presented to Columbus City Council in the coming weeks.