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Franklin County announces $23 million in federal funding for families, child care providers

The Franklin County RISE initiative will support families who make too much to qualify for Publicly Funded Child Care, yet can’t afford child care services.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ohio — Franklin County commissioners announced a $23 million investment on Thursday as part of a new child care initiative to benefit both families and providers.

Deemed by commissioners as the “most significant investment” Franklin County’s childhood learning system has seen, the Franklin County RISE initiative will directly support families who make too much to qualify for Publicly Funded Child Care, yet can’t afford child care services.  

Funding for the initiative will come from the American Rescue Plan, according to a release, and builds on previous funds from the City of Columbus. 

Roughly $11.4 million in scholarships will go to families facing the benefits cliff, according to a release. 

“The benefits cliff is the result of federal policy that simply hasn’t kept up with the cost of child care,” said Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce. “If we realistically want people in the workforce and moving up the economic ladder, we have to find ways to make child care affordable.”

Data provided by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners show nearly one in six of central Ohio’s child care centers that closed during the COVID-19 pandemic has not reopened. 

As part of the $23 million investment, more than $11.3 million will go to supporting child care providers. That includes up to $3,000 in incentives for providers to accept low-income families and up to $5,000 per year to expand hours. 

Additionally, $500,000 will go toward rental assistance for child care workers, many of whom are predominantly women or people of color, according to the release. 

“This program is designed to empower families and provide resources they need to take advantage of the many benefits child care offers,” said Action for Children CEO Eric Karolak. “Quality child care delivers a lifetime of return for young minds, so it’s exciting to make an impact in our community without local government partners.”

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