When parents across the country can’t find child care, the economy loses a staggering $57 billion per year in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.
That’s a crisis, according to a new report — “Want to Grow the Economy? Fix the Child Care Crisis” — released by ReadyNation, an organization of business executives who are “building a skilled workforce by promoting solutions that prepare children to succeed in education, work, and life.”
“The practical and economic consequences of insufficient child care are enormous, impacting parents, employers, and taxpayers.”
The report notes that parents face shortages in three areas: access, affordability, and quality. Specifically:
• “Nearly one-third of parents (32 percent) report having difficulty finding child care.”
• “The average annual cost of center-based child care for infants is more than the average cost of public college tuition and fees in 28 states,” and
• “Only 11 percent of child care nationwide is accredited.”
The economic analysis that accompanies the report breaks down the $57 billion in losses, pointing to:
• an average of $3,350 in lost earnings per parent in reduced productivity at work, and in more time looking for work, which for 11 million parents totals $37 billion
• an average of $1,150 per working parent lost in reduced revenues and recruitment costs, totaling $13 billion, and
• an average loss of $630 per working parent in lower income tax and sales tax, totaling $7 billion
Parents who have struggled to find child care have faced a number of problems. Working parents won’t be surprised to hear the list of challenges that were revealed by a nationally representative survey of 812 parents, which found that:
• 63 percent of parents had to leave work early
• 56 percent have been late for work
• 55 percent missed a full day of work
• 25 percent turned down a new job offer
• 20 percent were reprimanded by a supervisor, and
• 13 percent quit their jobs
To address these problems, ReadyNation is calling on everyone to play a role.
• Businesses can provide on-site child care, help families out with financial support for child care, and advocate for better child care policies.
• The federal government, which provides funding through the Child Care and Development Block Grant, can increase funding and innovations, and
• States, many of which focus on quality, can also innovate
“Effective, well-funded policy initiatives, as well as continuing innovations at the federal, state, and local levels will yield a child care system that will support a more productive workforce and economy, both now and in the future.”
Fortunately, some efforts are underway. Federal funding, for example, has increased.
“In 2018, Congress passed the United States’ largest-ever increase of the Child Care and Development Block Grant, giving states across the nation more than $2 billion additional each year to invest in child care,” the Center for American Progress says. This funding helps with access, quality, and affordability.
A video (posted above) explains some of the expected benefits of this increase. Access to child care will be increased in rural communities in Oregon. Indiana is increasing access by cutting its waiting list for subsidized child care in half. And Rhode Island is using the funding to increase the amount the state pays to high-quality programs.
As the video says, it’s great to celebrate this progress — and to remind policymakers to do more to support families by pushing forward to address the unmet need for child care that will help families — and the economy — thrive.