Parents should not have to choose between going to work to provide for their families and making sure their children are well cared for. A person in a suitDescription automatically generated with medium confidenceAcross Ohio, childcare is far too expensive and too hard to find – particularly in rural communities, where parents face unique challenges and have unique needs when it comes to caring for their children.
That’s why I introduced the bipartisan Expanding Childcare in Rural America (ECRA) Act of 2023, to improve the availability and quality, and lower the cost, of childcare in agricultural and rural communities.
Many parents in farm towns and rural areas work non-traditional hours and need childcare providers who can accommodate their unique schedules. Rural communities often don’t have enough high-quality childcare providers, making it hard for families to find childcare that’s a good fit, with spaces available. And when they do find a good option, it’s often too expensive.
This lack of affordable, quality childcare is hurting families, and it’s hurting rural economies. Without quality, affordable childcare, communities can’t grow and they can’t develop.
Right now, these communities are struggling to recruit and retain skilled workers because there aren’t enough childcare options. Workers don’t want to take a job if they’re afraid they won’t be able to find care for their kids nearby. They worry their whole paycheck will be eaten up by childcare, or that their spouse will have to stop working.
Our bill would support local businesses and nonprofits that are working to provide affordable childcare in rural communities. That means more loans, more financing options, and more opportunities for small childcare businesses to help them get off the ground or expand. This isn’t a top-down solution – it’s about empowering Ohioans who are dedicated to caring for children, and want to start or grow their businesses and organizations.
This is a commonsense, bipartisan step to make childcare more affordable and more accessible in rural communities, so that more Ohio parents can support their families and make sure their children are cared for.
Sherrod Brown is the senior U.S. senator from Ohio.