Recovery committee delivers recommendations with a focus on child care
City and community leaders this week issued the recommendations from a yearlong effort in Columbus to formulate an equitable post-pandemic recovery plan.
Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther announced the Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Committee in September 2020. The group began its work the following month, and in March of this year began to form immediate, short, and long-term plans to ensure the city's recovery would be inclusive. Mayor Ginther and YWCA President and CEO Christie Angel, who chaired the committee, acknowledged the unfortunate timing of the report with the arrival of Omicron.
"We thought things would be in a different place, but as we know a new variant rages," Angel said. "We still are struggling to get people vaccinated. So, we're going to be living with this for a while. But this committee knew we could not hold up on the recommendations and had to keep moving forward. It was a point in time by our committee to look at the needs of our community in some very specific areas."
The committee outlined 37 recommendations to address persistent inequities and disparities, many that have been worsened by the pandemic.
"We're talking about workforce development, housing, youth development, small and minority business growth, infrastructure planning, digital equity, child care, food insecurity, policy issues, eviction challenges, and many more," Angel added.
Angel described the work as a way to disrupt the systems causing the problems to give every resident a chance for success. One big system problem involves child care. The committee found the childcare workforce faces increasing instability. With wages that average less than $11.00/hour and only 15% having access to benefits through their employer, it's not surprising that the turnover rate among early childhood educators hovers around 30% according to Action for Children.
"Equitable child care access in this community is in crisis," Columbus State Community College Executive Vice President Dr. Rebecca Butler said. "We must address it to create sustained and shared prosperity. Our committee recommends critical and innovative investments to mobilize teacher training and worker talent in the childcare profession. We want to sustain professional development and professional growth. This career is a calling, and we need to support it. The committee calls for equipping childcare provider businesses with financial and educational resources to flourish and grow. It recognizes the need for scholarships so that all families, especially black and brown community members, have access to high-quality childcare."
Columbus State will partner with the city to provide no-cost educational opportunities to increase the number of credentialed childcare professionals in the region. The community college will also serve as a regional employment and placement hub to connect childcare providers with new professionals. And finally, Columbus State will build a multi-million dollar downtown campus childcare center and educator innovation learning lab funded by the college’s voter-approved Franklin County bond issue.
The committee plans to update the community on the progress of all its recommendations.