COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Monday is National Day Without Childcare.
Childcare providers across the country stepped away from work to rally for better wages and affordable care. One of those rallies took place inside the Ladies’ Gallery of the Ohio Statehouse, featuring a targeted message to a key player in Ohio’s economy.
The rally was hosted by the Care Economy Organizing Project, or the CEO Project for short. The group of parents and care providers is mainly made up of women of color, a group disproportionately affected by a lack of affordable childcare. Their message: parents are barred from succeeding in the workforce due to a lack of childcare.
“We have to do better as a state at investing in our childcare system,” said childcare provider Rhonda Brown Daniels. “I had to make decisions on whether to keep kids or not because they lost their childcare.”
Malia Ferrell, a single mother, said working a low-wage job is the only way she can afford to provide for her one-year-old daughter. She’d lost her childcare subsidy after she accepted a job that allowed her to work from home and earn a higher wage, that still wasn’t high enough to cover childcare out-of-pocket. “I had to keep my child at home. And when I kept her at home, my job didn’t like that. So they fired me because they didn’t want any kids in their work environment,” Ferrell said.
The group sent a memo to Intel Monday, seeking a partnership and proposing corporate policies to support a thriving childcare system and workforce when the company completes its Licking County manufacturing plant.
“What we wanted to do was hear from the providers, so the memo is heavily informed by providers that live in Columbus, Ohio,” said Tami Lunan, Director of the CEO Project. “Families do want to get to work. Moms, dads– they do want to get back to work and into the economy. But they cant find childcare.”
Proposals in the memo include supporting transportation and affordable housing for childcare workers in the area, grants to increase available childcare slots in Licking and Franklin Counties, and supporting higher wages for Ohio’s childcare workers – who on average make about $13.18 per hour according to federal labor statistics.
As part of the CHIPS and Science Act, a federal bill that helps fund projects like the Intel plant in Licking County, companies must provide some sort of childcare support in order to access the funding. Intel offers discounted tuition at certain providers to its employees and has emergency backup childcare resources on hand.
NBC4 asked the company for its thoughts about the memo and received this statement from a spokesperson:
“Intel is excited about the progress we are making in Ohio to build the Silicon Heartland, and we are committed to working with our community partners to build and support a skilled and diverse workforce. Intel provides best-in-class benefits packages for its employees, including childcare programs with tuition discounts at local childcare centers and emergency backup childcare resources. We will continue to invest to develop, attract, and retain the talent needed to ensure Intel remains an employer of choice in New Albany and across the country.“