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Young children waiting on adults to act

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Lynanne Gutierrez

By Lynanne Gutierrez
Groundwork Ohio

Are you a family who’s struggling to pay the exorbitant cost of child care?

Have you quit your job or decided not to work outside the home because you don’t have reliable, affordable child care?

Is your business struggling to hire and keep workers because employees can’t find child care?

We all pay when children don’t get the priority they need and deserve from state government. The fallout is tremendous and lasting, overwhelming parents and holding back our economy.

Child care costs are crushing Ohio families — when they can find it. Ohio workers, on average, spend nearly $10 of every hour worked on child care expenses – and Ohio’s median income is $29 per hour. Infant care averages $11,438 annually.

This reality is why we see so many “Help Wanted” signs. It’s why big and small businesses can’t hire and keep people on the job.

But failing to invest in high-quality child care and early learning that allows families to work isn’t the only way we’re shortchanging young children. 

Nearly 65% of all Ohio children start kindergarten behind. If they don’t catch up quickly, they’ll likely stay behind, with learning gaps compounding year over year. They need early educators who are well-trained and fairly compensated so those workers can afford to stay in the profession.

On the health front, almost 4 in 10 babies and toddlers from low-income families aren’t getting the necessary preventative care at well-visits. If we don’t intervene early when children have a health issue, the consequences can be life-long and limiting to their potential.

Groundwork Ohio is committed to driving up investment in children, especially now, in the wake of the pandemic, which exposed the fragility of systems that support children. We’re helping build a movement that pushes young children to the top of our state’s political agenda, one that holds our leaders accountable for lifting up children and investing in their futures. With the support of families, businesses, and community leaders, we can change things for children.

This focus is paying off. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s recent State of the State address was all about what Ohio must do better to ensure children grow up to become healthy, well-educated members of society. We are grateful that he’s using his bully pulpit to advocate for children whose needs too often are overlooked.
One of the most important things we at Groundwork Ohio do is create opportunities for the voices of adults who represent children to be heard by policymakers. Children don’t attend town halls or testify before lawmakers. And many of the parents, caregivers, child care providers, health care workers, and small business owners who see the challenges young children face every day cannot participate in the policy process.

But we can. And we are doing just that.

Over the next 90 days, we’re going on the road for a Listening Tour. We’ll be in 14 communities across the state where we’re inviting families and leaders to come together to share the changes they want, so Ohio can truly and accurately be the best place to be a young child. 

We hope to see you at one of the upcoming events. Come make your voice and your experiences heard! Learn more and register to attend online:

Supporting our youngest children is an investment in them and in Ohio. As Gov. DeWine said in his recent speech, “Kids have only one chance to grow up. So, we must have a great sense of urgency, as every moment we waste is a moment they lose.”     

We owe our youngest our best. As adults, we must speak up for them because they can't speak for themselves. It’s time to take action and hold Ohio leaders accountable.

• Join us at the Groundwork Ohio Roadshow Listening Tour at the First Stop in Wilmington from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, April 25. Register online: 

Lynanne Gutierrez is president of Groundwork Ohio, a statewide advocacy organization that supports investing in young children and their families. 

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••• Publisher's note: A free press is critical to having well-informed voters and citizens. While some news organizations opt for paid websites or costly paywalls, The Highland County Press has maintained a free newspaper and website for the last 25 years for our community. If you would like to contribute to this service, it would be greatly appreciated. Donations may be made to: The Highland County Press, P.O. Box 849, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. Please include "for website" on the memo line.

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