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Soaring costs pricing Northeast Ohio families, facilities out of childcare

Childcare deserts emerging as prices soar
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Posted at 6:34 PM, May 02, 2022

SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio — Ohio families of four are paying out more than $14,400 a year for childcare, according to the Family Budget Calculator.

That breaks down to nearly 20% of their estimated annual expenses.

“18 months old, $1,285. Preschooler is $1,165,” said Michele Block.

The numbers easily fall in the mortgage range, but this is what moms and dads are paying every single month to send their children to the Early Childhood Enrichment Center in Shaker Heights.

Block is now seeing an increased number of parents quitting their jobs because they can no longer afford the care they provide.

"Unfortunately, it is hitting mothers more than fathers just because of how families are set up," said Block.

Many others are getting creative with their careers and only sending their children part-time to curtail the cost.

"Most people used to come five days, it was kind of rare, the part-timers," said Block.

However, it's not just parents struggling with the costs of early childhood education.

Another concerning trend is starting to emerge.

"Early childhood education is the bedrock for everything else," said Beth Price, Early Childhood Enrichment Center.

Childcare deserts are becoming more common, according to Price.

"There are a lot of child care centers that have not reopened because they can't afford to," said Price.

The pandemic-enhanced workforce shortage and increased wages and incentives that followed -- dealing one of the biggest blows.

"You can go work at Amazon, people are not coming back to early childhood education," said Price.

For those sites that didn't permanently shutter, they had to scale back.

"They can't reopen all of their classrooms because they have no way of staffing those classrooms," said Price.

The lack of options for those parents who can still foot the bill is creating a mad dash to lock in care.

"I have a couple of families that want to start in January of 2024," said Block.

The request took Block by surprise, who has been on the job at the Early Childhood Enrichment Center for 31 years.

"I have never seen that, ever, ever before," said Block.

Meantime, Block and the staff are trying to weather this staffing storm.

"It's much more difficult now even finding teachers than it was," said Price.

The Shaker Heights facility offers enhanced benefits for new hires like sick and vacation days, paid holidays, and overtime, but it remains a challenge.

"I've had an ad out for months and I think I've hired two teachers off of that and we still need a couple more teachers," said Price.