Advertisement

Huge daycare funding discrepancies uncovered by 19 Investigates concern Northeast Ohio parents

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Daycare owners have questions about the funding the state is funneling to centers in our area.

The money is meant to help them recoup what they lost during the pandemic.

But—19 Investigates discovered there’s a huge difference in the amount of money certain centers can get.

We’re asking why and whether every child is benefiting fairly under the state’s grant program.

When their daughter’s daycare suddenly shut down last fall, Keegan and Amanda Radeff needed to find somewhere else for their daughter Delilah to go.

“She is now getting into absolutely everything,” Amanda said.

Nannies can cost more than double daycare rates and the Radeffs found that a lot of daycares have long waitlists.

Thankfully they found a spot for Delilah close to home, but it is a lot more expensive.

“We went from paying $208 a week to $275,” Keegan said.

19 Investigates found that what happened to them could start happening to more and more families as daycares continue to struggle post-pandemic.

A daycare owner came to us, but asked we not identify him for fear of repercussions—as he’s calling into question the state’s process of dolling out grant money.

“How did they come up with these numbers?” he asked.

The grants can be put towards staff retention, rent, utilities and even improving classroom technology.

Thursday night, we explained his concern that huge daycare centers are able to get way more money than smaller ones.

19 Investigates discovered huge daycares in Ohio can apply for significantly more money than...
19 Investigates discovered huge daycares in Ohio can apply for significantly more money than those licensed for fewer kids.(WOIO)

You can see on the bar graph we made, that the funds appear to reasonably increase exponentially as licensed capacity doubles, until you get to the the jump from large to extra-large.

A medium sized day care with capacity for up to 99 kids gets about $2,000 more than a small center and a large day care gets about $5,000 more at the next step up.

When the state rolled out the most recent phase of grants two new categories were created: extra-large and extra-extra-large.

“The next jump you would think it’d be like $7,000 or $8,000,well that jumps up over $70,000,” the day care owner pointed out.

Each daycare can apply for a certain amount of grant money based on its size.
Each daycare can apply for a certain amount of grant money based on its size.(WOIO)

“I believe it’s unfair, because the numbers are significantly different. I’m not sure how their cost structure was determined,” he said.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said, “We added the additional categories based on the feedback we received from providers in the first round pertaining to the costs associated with running larger programs. I’d also emphasize that this is an iterative process and we will continue to make changes as we learn more.”

“I don’t disagree that it does cost more, because you’re going to have larger buildings, but its such a large difference I’m not sure how they came up with that number, because it still costs all of us a lot to run our business,” the day care owner told us.

The owner says when he applied for money, current enrollment didn’t matter, the state looks at licensed capacity.

That means a large center like his could have the same number of children enrolled right now as an extra large center, yet because the extra-large center’s licensed for more kids, it can apply for nearly times the amount of money from the state.

“I believe it’s unfair, because the numbers are significantly different. I’m not sure how their cost structure was determined,” he said.

After weeks of reaching out to the department of Job and Family Services for more of an explanation, the Governor made an announcement about the funding that would be available, without addressing the concern over the funding amounts by size.

The spokesperson also said this scale was developed “by a team experienced with the State’s child care program and included input from the child care community.”

“I would like the state to revisit them or give an explanation on how their can be such a large difference in numbers,” the daycare owner said.

Maybe there is one-- but he says he just can’t figure it out.

The Radeffs hadn’t seen the numbers until we showed them.

“The ratio doesn’t make any sense in my opinion,” Keegan said.

They are happy with their current setup for Delilah, but knowing their center can’t get as much for her as a huge center could, they’re hoping they don’t end up in the situation they were in last fall again.

“The idea of having a little baby and having to put her in daycare, and then thinking oh we might not have daycare, it’s crazy,” Amanda said.

Copyright 2022 WOIO. All rights reserved.