FOREST PARK, Ohio — Forest Park single mother Angela Perry-Jordan made a life-changing decision in August, quitting her job at a Springfield Township nursing home to stay home with her four children.
Perry-Jordan saw little choice but to give up her position as an LPN charge nurse to help her youngest three children, who are taking classes online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I was just looking at my kids and I thought, like, ‘Dag, they haven’t been in school since March,’” said Perry-Jordan. “That was a lot of school that they missed then, and they’ve been out all of this time. We started school back again and it’s like they are not going to be in school now, and I needed to be there to make sure my children got their education.”
Regina Campbell, managing attorney of the income, work and health practice group at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, said many single mothers are facing tough decisions like Perry-Jordan’s.
“More people have filed for unemployment in the last six months than have in the last three years,” Campbell said.
Perry-Jordan said the decision to quit her job was hard, but working long unpredictable hours to care for patients at the nursing home began to take its toll on her ability to help her children.
“I can't expect a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old to do their work and then be focused with the teacher and the class while a 4-year-old is running around, irritating them, while I’m at work or they have to stop and cook him something because I’m not here,” she said.
Campbell said she believes single parents are choosing unemployment because they have no one to watch their children.
“The hard part is they are not eligible for state unemployment -- they have to move into the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance system, and there have been huge problems with that,” Campbell said. “So, we have moms who have no other income who have been waiting weeks and weeks and weeks to do that switch.”
Perry-Jordan is in that position now. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services told her that she could not apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) until she received a denial of state unemployment benefits because she quit her job.
“I asked her, why do I have to file for unemployment and you know that I’m going to get denied,” Perry-Jordan said. “You know I need this money to pay my bills and keep the gas and electric on. To feed my kids. To make sure they have what they need.”
According to ODJFS, 55,779 women applied for unemployment assistance from March to July of this year. During those same months in 2019, only 3,879 women filed unemployment claims.
Vanessa Freytag, president and CEO of the agency 4C For Children, also said a lack of child care options might be why some mothers are choosing unemployment.
“There is something called School-Age Care that child care programs can also provide,” Freytag said. “The need for that has exponentially increased. That is usually not a large need this time of year because children are usually in a school building.”
Locally there is a shortage of teachers for those childcare programs, Freytag said, adding that the programs’ cost to families with only one income also can add stress.
“There is some help from the state but it is not enough to help everyone who has this need,” said Freytag.
Perry-Jordan said for now, she is taking the situation “day by day.”
“If I start thinking about tomorrow’s worries, then I’ll be so filled with anxiety and pressures and I won't be able to help my children. And I left my job to help my kids,” she said.
If you need help finding child care or assistance, you can reach out to 4C for Children and check out the online interactive map on the agency’s website. The map can help you find nearby child care options.
If you decide to quit your job because you need to care for school-aged children, you can start the PUA application here. Keep in mind that applying through these online systems can take time.
A spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services suggests parents review the department’s FAQ about child care and PUA.