Ottawa County: Childcare initiative planning next phase

Press Staff Writer

Finding quality childcare is one of the many challenges parents face as they rely on providers to pursue a career or schooling and employers rely on providers to ensure a stable workforce.
Childcare infrastructure also influences where people choose to work. If taking a new job or moving to a new community means moving from a provider they trust, they are less likely to take a new job or make the move.
In May 2022, a Regional Childcare Study was released by Firelands Forward in partnership with the Child Care Resource Center. The study found that parents want quality and affordable childcare where their child is safe and happy. To view the full childcare study, visit
After the study was complete, Firelands Forward established a regional work group to figure how to build capacity in this region.
Katherine Adams was hired as Manager of Workforce & Career Exploration in January 2023 for the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation. One of her roles is to create an active childcare working group.
“I came on board last year and realized quickly that we had a need for childcare in Ottawa County,” Adams said. “After a number of meetings and discussions with businesses and community members, we created the Ottawa County Childcare Initiative to determine site feasibilities.”
The group includes local businesses, social services agencies and childcare providers who meet regularly to develop action plans that will increase accessibility and capacity for childcare.
Sabrina Smith, of C. Nelson Manufacturing, sits on the committee and has been an active supporter of the initiative.
“As a small business owner in Oak Harbor and a mom of two young children, I'm thrilled at the potential for more childcare options in Ottawa County,” commented Smith. “The more childcare options in the area allow local companies an advantage to recruiting employees with this added benefit. In addition to that, this committee is coming up with creative ways to support the local childcare workforce to reduce the financial burden on the daycare owner."
The committee has identified three churches within the county that could potentially provide space and become childcare providers. Conversations with other churches are also being held.
The committee is conducting walk-throughs in the churches to determine infrastructure needs to begin the next phase,
“We’re working closely with our YWCA partners in Toledo,” stated Adams. “They have assisted with resources and information to help us navigate the training and licensure processes.”
As part of the Initiative’s plan to generate more capacity, a survey was created and sent to area partners to help direct the creation of new childcare centers that will best meet the needs of the community.
To take the 2-minute survey visit
In addition, an upcoming Childcare Resource open house will be held March 6 from 11:30 am-1:30 p.m. at the Ottawa County Resource Centre, State Rt. 163, Oak Harbor. The event will include information and resources for individuals interested in becoming a home childcare provider or wanting to work in a childcare facility.
“We’re looking forward to hosting this event,” stated Adams. “There will be plenty of information available so if you know someone interested in all things childcare, send them to this event.”
For questions regarding the survey or open house, call Adams at 567-262-3302.
The Ottawa County Childcare Initiative is a collaborative effort between the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation, Firelands Forward, social services agencies, non-profits, and area businesses.


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