ChildCareShare: Marion County Child Care Coalition’s Pilot Program Addresses Child Care Availability Crisis and Workforce Shortages

Chamber Partners to Create New Workforce Solution

The MCCCC convened in 2021 to identify and remove barriers to accessible, affordable child care for Marion County residents. Founding organizations include United Way of North Central Ohio, YMCA, YWCA, Marion Goodwill, Marion Matters, Marion Area Chamber of Commerce, Marion Community Foundation, Boys & Girls Club, and Marion Job & Family Services.

The Coalition began with a review of child care availability and a survey of working families. Affordable child care in Marion County was scarce even before the pandemic shut down some centers and imposed costly safety procedures on others. Many longstanding Marion child care centers never recovered.

The Coalition survey found that 66% of families had unstable options if faced with a sudden loss of child care, including quitting a job or risking termination. A Groundwork Ohio poll showed that more than 40% of working parents had to cut back on hours to care for children, and nationally, nearly 1.8 million women left the workforce since the start of the pandemic. 60% of non-working or part-time working mothers say they would resume work if they had access to good child care at a reasonable cost.

It became clear that the child care crisis was also a factor in the workforce shortages faced by local employers, and ChildCareShare emerged as the Coalition’s cornerstone initiative for Marion County.

Modeled after Michigan’s TriShare program, the ChildCareShare framework shares child care costs equally between employers, employees, and outside funders, making child care more affordable for families and getting individuals for whom child care is a major employment barrier back into the workforce.

ChildCareShare reduces the cost of child care for participating employees by 66% and gives employers a valuable recruitment and retention benefit. The ChildCareShare employer commitment allows flexibility in the number of slots offered to eligible employees and the maximum amount of investment.

Employees with a household income of 143% to 400% of Ohio poverty standards who meet the requirements for participation established by their employer will be eligible for the program.

Participating child care providers also benefit from a reliable income, with regular payments made by the ChildCareShare facilitator enabling them to make longer-term hiring and expansion decisions. Before- and after-school care, summer care, and full- and part-time care from participating providers are all supported by ChildCareShare.

Marion Goodwill serves as the Coalition backbone and facilitator for ChildCareShare. Funders for the program’s rollout include United Way of North Central Ohio and Marion Community Foundation. Additionally, the program received a one-time American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant awarded by the Marion County Commissioners. The Coalition will continue to pursue funding opportunities to ensure the program remains viable.

As the ChildCareShare pilot program nears launch, Coalition members are working to get information to interested employers and to build an initial database of participating providers. The program intends to begin serving its first families in 2023. For more information about the program, contact Beth Granlee at

Source: Marion Area Chamber Progressing Together; December 2022