Our annual community needs assessment consistently identifies quality and affordable childcare as a critical need, with specific service gaps related to care that supports parents in the workforce. While Head Start and state-subsidized care are excellent program options, the eligibility criteria are often restrictive and exclusionary for most working parents. Additionally, low and middle-income parents often struggle to move beyond subsidized care environments as benefits tend to be "all or nothing" with no gradual transition for increased income and career growth. This benefits cliff can force parents to leave the workforce as market-rate childcare consumes the majority of their income. Center-based infant care is over $10,000 a year, which equates to 43% of the average single parent's income. These childcare challenges negatively impact workplace attendance, performance, and tenure resulting in significant strain and expense to our workforce
CAW/M and the Wayne Economic Development Corporation have recently participated in a College of Wooster Applied Methods Research Experience (AMRE) project to evaluate the potential for partnership with area employers to provide workforce childcare that features the following key elements:
- Participating employers will provide space or funding for childcare and/or preschool centers, ideally accessing existing space within or in close proximity to employment sites.
- Childcare spots are prioritized for employees of partner businesses.
- Childcare that meets the needs of the participating businesses, including the provision of infant, toddler, and preschool programming.
- Five-star Step Up to Quality (SUTQ) level services will be offered on a sliding fee scale that allows for a gradual transition from subsidy to self-sufficiency, thus encouraging advancement within partner businesses.
- Engage support from local foundations, employers, and corporate sponsors to cover subsidized operations expenses. In the event of the expansion of publicly-funded daycare (HB 145), CAW/M will determine eligibility and potential for inclusion.
- CAW/M and area childcare partners will access the expertise, certifications, training resources, and best practices of our longstanding best practice programming.
- Partnerships between multiple businesses will be explored to reduce unrealistic obligations and dependency on one individual partner.
- This model is scalable to meet future needs by adding strategic geographic partners as the need arises.
- CAW/M is able to provide support for partner in-home providers to meet needs related to multiple shift coverage, sick care, and special needs services.