Childcare Resource Open House addresses childcare needs in Ottawa County

Mar 12, 2024 | Featured, Business | 0 comments

From left, Connie North and Michelle Nowak of Ottawa County Job & Family Services talk with YWCA employees Carol Bandelaria and Peg Loehrke during the Childcare Resource Open House on March 6. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

BY SHERI TRUSTY

As businesses struggle to find employees, some potential workers face the frustrating obstacle of finding childcare so they can accept or keep a job. Ottawa County has only one state-licensed in-home daycare, so the lack of reliable and affordable childcare is impacting the local workforce. Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC) addressed the problem by creating the Ottawa County Childcare Initiative led by OCIC Manager of Workforce & Career Exploration, Katherine Adams.

The Ottawa County Childcare Initiative brings together local businesses, social service agencies and childcare providers who work collaboratively to develop strategies to increase accessibility to childcare. On March 6, many of those partners participated in the Childcare Resource Open House at the Ottawa County Resource Centre in Oak Harbor. The event provided attendees the chance to learn more about employment opportunities in childcare and the process of starting an in-home childcare business.

OCIC Manager of Workforce & Career Exploration, Katherine Adams, is working with local partners to increase childcare accessibility to childcare. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

Several local agencies and businesses participated, including the Ottawa County Board of Developmental Disabilities, All Elite Sports and the YWCA of Northwest Ohio. Laura Tenney, an Eligibility Referral Specialist with Ottawa County Job & Family Services, said there are benefits to in-home daycare providers who take the steps to become licensed by the state.

“You get paid better, and there are different food programs you can apply for,” Tenney said.

Peg Loehrke, a Child Care Resource & Referral Specialist with YWCA of Northwest Ohio, is available to assist people through the process of becoming a licensed in-home childcare provider.

“I walk them through each step of the process, and I have a class that’s optional,” she said. “It would be great if we could get more in-home childcare providers licensed in Ottawa County because we only have one. Anybody can call me for help.”

The Childcare Resource Open House helped promote local childcare resources. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

In addition to encouraging in-home childcare providers to seek licensing, the Ottawa County Childcare Initiative is also working to increase daycare centers in the area. The group hired an architect to do a feasibility study at select local churches to determine the plausibility of developing childcare centers in their church buildings.

Partnering with churches is another way for the Initiative to meet its goals.

“The idea is to work collaboratively to be sure childcare needs are met in the county,” Adams said. “We want anybody who has childcare needs to know the resources. We don’t want to lose employees because they don’t have childcare.”

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