Childcare centers struggle to survive during the pandemic


By Jerry Masek

“If Ohio is going back to work, we need child care.”   

That opinion, shared by many, is painfully clear to Horizon Education Centers Executive Director David Smith.

Horizon operates 12 facilities, including one next to the Triskett Rapid Station in West Park.   

Horizon spent $2.7 million to build that center. It opened in May 2019, with a full capacity of 210 students. Within a year, it served 160 students each day. The site is popular with commuters who can drop off their children before riding the Rapid to jobs Downtown and in University Circle.

When COVID-19 hit…    

Like much of Ohio, the center closed in mid-March. When it reopened in June, the daily capacity was capped at 68 children via state restrictions.

The children are there but the revenue is not enough to cover expenses. 

“It’s like we are selling $5 bills for $4 each,” Smith said. “We are losing about $10,00 each month. The challenge is the same for all 12 facilities. We may have to temporarily shut down the Triskett center again.”

Where did the other students go?   

Smith said many parents found alternative care, such as high school students or older siblings home for the summer. A survey found that 70-percent of parents are single heads of their household. The survey also showed that 80-percent of parents who continue to use Horizon are “essential workers,” with jobs in grocery stores, transportation and health care.   

Even if state restrictions are lifted, the classrooms may be hard to fill right away, Smith says. Many parents have a fear of COVID and most already have made alternative plans for the summer. When schools re-open, the need for Horizon centers will increase. 

More state aid would help Horizon stay open until fall. Horizon has received some federal aid, but not nearly enough.   

“If Ohio could lift its group size restrictions, it would give us a fighting chance, “Smith said.  “If Ohio is going back to work, we need child care.”

Little Critters Too Now Open &

LITTLE CRITTERS HALLOWEEN 20181031_165039, photo submitted

Little Critters Too is now open at  13712 Bellaire Rd. 

It is a day care center for children aged Kindergarten through 13.

One appealing thing about Little Critters Too is its full-sized gym.

WEB 2018.11.29 CMYK Gym Little Critters School, Jessie

“When the weather’s like this, it’s really nice that we have a big gym to play and run around in. We go to the gym daily and it gives them an indoor playground to use all year.” says Anna Vince, a director in training. In her role at the school, Vince also assists in transporting the children safely, using a pick-up program that is designed to send a message confirming when a child has been picked up or dropped off.

“I don’t leave a place until that child is with me or has gotten to where they need to go,” says Vince. “Safety is a real big thing with me and everyone at the school.”

The school also provides breakfast and a snack, and for longer days that include school breaks, they also serve a lunch.

“We have a nice kitchen here on site where we can prepared things,” says Vince.

Little Critters Too came following Little Critters Early Learning Center which is located at 12625 Lena Ave. This is for children aged 6 weeks through 5 years. Both facilities are owned and operated by mother and daughter, Brenda Dillingham and Zshavina Kennedy.

“We needed more space (while at the Lena facility),” says Vince. “We were getting bigger but we like to multiply,” she says, adding, “the more the merrier.”

To learn more or register your child for Little Critters Too, contact Anna Vince, at email,

CMYK Little Critters Hallway Photos