National polling shows Ohio voters want affordable child care

By: - July 26, 2023 4:40 am

The CEO Project, a statewide grassroots organization, called for more childcare funding on National Day Without Child Care. (Photo provided by the CEO Project).

New polling conducted by a national advocacy group found the “vast majority” of Ohio voters want to see more affordable quality child care in the state.

The First Five Years commissioned a poll through Public Opinion Strategies on voter attitudes on child care and early childhood education, along with polls of other states and a national audience.

“This concern cuts across party lines and spans state borders,” researchers found. “It is felt strongly by parents and non-parents alike.”

In terms of Ohio voters, 93% of poll participants “believe it is important for working parents of young children to be able to find and afford quality child care programs.”

That sentiment is bipartisan, according to the poll results, with overwhelming majorities of Republican, Democrat and independent voters supporting affordable quality child care.

Funding for that child care should be coming from federal sources and tax dollars, the polling stated, with 74% of voters in Ohio saying “increasing funding for child care and early childhood education programs is an important priority and a good use of tax dollars.”

“Nearly six out of ten Ohio voters (58%) say that resources directed to child care and early learning programs benefit both the individual family/children and the overall community,” an analysis of the polling found.

The poll respondents were presented with five reform policies for the child care system, including providing tax incentives to businesses who help find early childhood education programs for employees, providing greater funding to Head Start programs, increasing federal funding to states to expand current programs, increasing the tax credit to offset the cost of child care and increasing the child tax credit.

The First Five Years polling showed a majority of Ohio voters supported each of the policies “easily across gender and generational lines, as well as across both ideological and partisan lines.”

“In fact, even ’24 Trump voters provide at least 75% support for each of the five policies tested,” the analysis stated.

Previous surveys and studies by child care advocates show the states worsening compared to other states in categories like math and reading proficiency and young children not in school. During those surveys and studies also recommended increased federal and state investment in child care.

With the most recent operating budget passed by the state at the end of June, and approved by Gov. Mike DeWine at the beginning of July, state-level advocates praised approvals of public school funding and improvements to eligibility for free school lunches, but said the funding “falls short in supporting affordable child care, expanding Medicaid to more children who need it and providing scholarships to children who have been in the foster care system,” according to Kim Eckhart, director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio.

Sarah Rittling, the executive director of the First Five Years Fund said the newest poll emphasizes the need, and the support, for attention to child care funding.

“What this poll tells us is that, both nationally and in these states, voters expect something to be done about the very real issues that families are facing,” Rittling said in a statement on the survey.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow (KY) Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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