County in ‘child care crisis’

TROY — Miami County Commissioners heard from a representative of Child Care Choices Tuesday regarding the county’s need for additional child care options for families.

Jenny Fox, CCC co-director, stated there are 25 centers listed within Miami County, however, only 13 are technically daycare centers, with the rest being preschools. These preschools, Fox noted, accept children ages 3 through 5 for a few hours at a time rather than providing all-day care.

“We are using the word ‘crisis,’” Fox said. “And I know that is a big word to use, but our county has been hurting for awhile and when I say ‘hurting,’ I mean we have a lack of child care.”

Out of those 13 child care centers, 10 are star-rated, Fox said, which means they’ve gone through the Step Up To Quality program and have at least one star. Step Up To Quality is a five-star quality rating and improvement system administered by the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

According to Fox, as of Sept. 1, any center that does not have a star is not being reimbursed for children whose families qualify for Title 20 assistance. Under Title 20, families may be required to pay part of their child care expenses in the form of a co-payment, with the remainder being reimbursed from the state to the child care center.

This means there are only 10 licensed daycare providers in Miami County that are able to accept Title 20 recipients. This change put roughly 120 kids/families in the position to find a new center or in-home provider that can accept Title 20.

According to the last census, Miami County’s population was 106,222, with 6,373, or roughly 6 percent, being under the age of 5.

“In normal times, there are roughly 1,650 child care spots open in Miami County for 6,373 kids,” Fox said. “That means there is enough room in child care centers for 25.8 percent of our children under the age of 5. So, 74.2 percent of children in Miami County have no center to go to.”

COVID-19 has only worsened these statistics, Fox said, with centers lowering enrollment due to changes in public health and safety standards.

Fox noted there are in-home care providers, as well, but only two within the county are licensed. She is planning a workshop to assist any in-home providers with how to become licensed. She expects the workshop to be held sometime after the first of the year.

Fox added that there are benefits to becoming a licensed in-home child care provider, including the opportunity to qualify for meal reimbursement and the ability to qualify for unemployment in the event of a shut down similar to those caused by COVID-19.

“Our mission for a long time has been referrals, but these past couple of months we’ve stepped back and realized that referrals is not where we need to go right now because there is no where really to refer families to,” she said. “We’re going to go the advocacy route to advocate for child care in the sense that we need to get the word out that there needs to be more available child care in Miami County.”