CLEVELAND — A new survey from LendingTree.com shows Ohio with the third-highest average increase in daycare costs per child in the country since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
LendingTree researchers said they used Center for American Progress data on costs for center-based child care providers and data from Child Care Aware of America on household child care costs to quantify the effect on households.
The survey showed Ohio with a 102% increase in daycare costs during the pandemic, with an average annual cost of $7,554 per child before the pandemic, and a $15,230 average annual cost per child as the pandemic moved into 2021.
Delores Gray of Cleveland, who is now raising her two grandchildren after her 33-year-old daughter suddenly died in 2019, told News 5 she is feeling Ohio's rising daycare costs.
Gray is wondering how she'll be able to afford weekly daycare, so she can take a new job at MetroHealth Medical Center, during a pandemic that has her grandchildren learning remotely from home.
“It is really really tough, extremely hard, it gets difficult trying to maneuver, especially when you’re trying to work and make ends meet,” Gray said.
“Normally you’re in school, then they take you to daycare, but they’ll be in this daycare all day if I can find one. My heart goes out to everyone because I know how I feel, and I could just imagine what they’re going through," she said.
“They need to put more funding for parents, single parents, for parents who have little children that have to go to daycare.”
“For people who have little children that have to go to daycare, we’re trying to find work, how can we find work when we can’t pay for daycare," Gray said.
Joan Hamm, executive director of Children First of Cleveland daycare told News 5 she sees the financial stress families are facing every day, even though daycare prices at her facility have stayed stable during the pandemic.
Hamm said her daycare helps families find publicly funded childcare and gets them to Starting Point, a Cleveland daycare referral agency.
Hamm is also with the Ohio Association of Child Care Providers, and said $335 million in federal funding is on the way, with the money split three ways, to daycares, child care employees and families who need daycare cost assistance.
“With these families, I feel like every day I know that they’re struggling and they’re scared," Hamm said.
"The first bucket of federal money is going to be for providers so that we don’t have to raise our prices in order to make ends meet," she said.
Hamm said the State of Ohio has the next 60-days to submit its plan to the federal government and expected the state will launch that effort in late April, early May.