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Columbus leaders outline plans to improve child care, access to jobs in pandemic fallout

The report shows people of color and women were disproportionately affected by community instability as a result of the pandemic.
Credit: WBNS 10TV

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus leaders outlined recovery plans on Wednesday to address inequities in health, jobs and housing created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During a briefing, the city’s Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Committee shared its pandemic impact findings. The report shows people of color and women were disproportionately affected by community instability as a result of the pandemic. 

According to Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, 1.8 million women left the workforce and have not returned since pandemic closures began. Lack of access to child care is a big contributing factor, Ginther said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed and further widened our community’s existing underlying inequities,” said Ginther. “No single entity can address all the challenges we face, but this committee has developed a framework for continued community collaboration and investment that will improve quality of life, particularly among our most vulnerable residents.”

Included in the advisory committee’s report are recovery recommendations in three categories: Support, readiness and development. 

The support will come from city leaders addressing short-term critical needs, such as housing, food security and human service infrastructure. Committee members plan to focus on enhancing digital inclusion, access to child care and higher education, among other initiatives, in order to build a strong community foundation. Additionally, the report suggests focusing on long-range community development projects. 

“Just as the community developed the recommendations, the community will play a crucial role in collaboratively implementing and championing these important policies,” Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady said. 

City leaders say some of these goals are already taking shape. More than $50 million in utility and rental assistance has been distributed to 25,170 tenants in central Ohio. The city also created the Stable Housing initiative, which funds rental assistance and supportive services in hard-to-reach communities throughout Columbus. 

In an effort to improve access to child care, Columbus State Community College announced Wednesday that it will provide training for Childcare Development Associate credentialing at no cost to those interested in becoming child care workers. 

Additionally, Columbus State officials announced plans for a regional child care employer hiring placement center, as well as a multi-million dollar child care center at the downtown campus and education innovation lab. Funding for these centers will come from the Franklin County bond issue approved by voters. 

You can learn more about the Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Committee here

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