TEN IDEAS: Address the Child Care Deficit

One of the most under-reported problems in our society is the desperate need for child care. It’s costly, in short supply, and in high demand. Another matter is the number of single mothers who would like to work, but whose work would not be economical, after factoring in child care costs and the loss in government benefits resulting from the increase in income. In the absence of child care (and consequently, income), the government steps in to provide wrap-around benefits.

This situation needs to be rectified. And we can do it.

I would like to offer child-care training vouchers to single mothers living in certain low-income regions (i.e., the ones labeled by the IRS as “Opportunity Zones”). Rather than losing government benefits as a single mother earns income, I would like for those benefits to be converted to funds placed into a 529 education account for her children (which can be withdrawn tax-free for private school or college tuition costs). I would expand the Publicly Funded Child Care program, so the single mother would not need to worry about paying for child care–either while she is training to become a child-care provider, or while she is working as one.

This won’t be a revolutionary move. However, in taking these reasonably inexpensive steps, we have re-engaged many more Ohioans into the work force. By increasing the supply of child care, we have lowered the cost of child care for Ohioans of all socioeconomic classes. Perhaps of greatest value, by bolstering the Publicly Funded Child Care Program, we will expose more children to a learning environment from a young age, which will help close the education gap between them and those children who grow up in wealthier neighborhoods.

Child care is not a job for everyone. So this won’t be a program that will help every impoverished single mother. But it’s another tool in my toolbox to help eliminate generational poverty.