Child Welfare

How to Keep Children First in the 2018 Election

November 2, 2018 | Ohio

We’re just a few days away from voting day in the 2018 Ohio general election. Tuesday, November 6th will be a key opportunity to lift up the needs of Ohio’s 2.6 million children who can’t vote for themselves. As you prepare to make your way to the polls, here are a few things you can do to place Ohio’s children first this election.

  1. Review CDF’s 2018 Voter Guide

As we near voting day, please take a few moments to read the Children’s Defense Fund’s 2018 Voter Guide. It has the information you need about the most pressing challenges facing our children. It’s a great way to make sure you’re informed when you make your choices at the ballot box.

  1. Prepare to Cast Your Ballot

It’s not too late to vote early. In-person early voting will be available at the following times:

Friday, November 2nd – 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, November 3rd – 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 4th – 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Monday, November 5th – 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

General Election Day is November 6, 2018. Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Find your polling location here.

For a personalized list of issues and candidates that will appear on the ballot in your location, check out the VOTE411 Voter Guide.

  1. Be Aware of the Challenges for Ohio’s Children

Child Poverty

In Ohio, 20.1% of Ohio children (roughly 513,000) lived in poverty in 2017. Child poverty is connected to poor health, social, educational, and economic outcomes, not only in childhood, but also in adulthood.

Ohio Children in Poverty by Race/Ethnicity 2016 and 2017

 Race/Ethnicity  Percent 2016 Percent 2017 Ohio’s Rank 2016 Ohio’s Rank 2017
 White 14.3 13.8 37 41
 Black 44.6 42.1 40 40
 Hispanic 33.2 34.3 38 45
 Asian 11.1 12.8 24 22
 2 or More Races 30.4 33.5 46 50
 All Groups 20.5 20.1 33 35

Child Health

Healthy children thrive socially and academically. They form strong bonds and are able to become valuable contributors in our communities not only in adulthood, but while they are still children. However, a number of factors are keeping many of Ohio’s children from thriving.

Ohio is struggling with unacceptably high infant mortality rates at 7.4 deaths per 1,000 births. Nearly half a million children lived in households that were food insecure in 2016. Child and teen deaths have ticked up recently to 25 deaths per 100,000 children. And while the child uninsured rate is down to 5.4%, we still face many challenges in making sure children can access and use the health services they need.

Early Childhood

Access to quality child care, early education program quality, and home visiting have been among the most public early childhood issues to arise in this election. A child’s early years set the stage for future learning, growth, and development. Access to quality child care is a critical issue facing our state. Our state is home to nearly 700,000 children under the age of five. Between 2014 and 2016, 56% of three and four-year old children were not in school. This is not surprising considering challenges with infant and toddler care deserts and unavailability of child care slots in our state—there are 4.1 infants and toddlers for each child care slot in the state.[1] Furthermore, we want all families to have access to affordable childcare in every county of Ohio.

Children’s Defense Fund Ohio has joined in the Vote for Ohio Kids Campaign promoting high-quality child care, high quality pre-school, and voluntary evidence based home visiting that give every child in our state a chance to succeed.

K-12 Education

K-12 education has emerged as one of the most critical issues, not only of this election, but of children, families, communities, and businesses all throughout the state.

Statewide, 61% of 4th graders scored below proficient in reading and 60% of 8th graders scored below proficient in math.

Among the most pressing conversations are ways to address the nonacademic issues that prevent our children from shining their brightest like trauma, poverty, and hunger. These factors are disruptive to learning, comprehension, and overall student outcomes. But with work from all of our communities and leaders, we can address these challenges and improve outcomes for all children.

Families and Communities

As our state and the nation work to combat the opioid crisis and its impact on our families and communities, much work is needed to protect the tiniest, and often silent, victims of the crisis: children. Ohio suffered more than 4,800 deaths due to unintentional overdoses. And national data revealed an uptick in child poisoning deaths to 16%, driven primarily by the opioid crisis.[2]

Furthermore, challenges with drug abuse and addiction are increasing the strain on the child welfare system. According to a survey of 78 children’s service agencies in Ohio, parental opioid use was a factor for 28% of children removed from homes in 2015 by children services agencies, and half of all children taken into protective custody in 2015 had a parent who used drugs.[3] More than 16,000 children are in custody and the 7,200 licensed foster families cannot meet the demand.[4]

Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio has joined in the Children’s Continuum of Care Reform Plan that reimagines the child protection system to get better outcomes for children and families.

Children can’t vote, but you can! Tuesday’s election is an opportunity to give our children a voice. Make sure that you do!

Check out of other available resources for this election:

Click here to access the Children’s Defense Fund 2018 Voter Guide!

Click here to go to the Vote for Ohio Kids Campaign!

Click here to go to the Children’s Continuum of Care Reform Plan!


Disclaimer: The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization. It does not engage in the promotion or endorsement of candidates for elected offices. The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and highlights some among many children’s issues.


[1] Howard et al. (2018). Understanding Infant and Toddler Child Care Deserts.

[2] Curtin et al. (2018). Recent Increases in Injury Mortality among Children and Adolescents Aged 10–19 Years in the United States: 1999–2016.

[3]  PCSAO. (2017). PCSAO Factbook (13th Edition).

[4] PSCAO. (2017). Crisis in Our Children Services System Why in Reform Needed in Ohio?