Points of View

Making the Business Case for High-Quality Childcare

Sam Stebbins

This blog post refers to a report by the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Read it here.

In a report titled “Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow: The Business Case for High-Quality Childcare,” The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation outlines the problems that childcare faces and reasons that business leaders should be invested in the issue. Childcare affects both the future and current workforce and provides jobs for the considerable number of people employed in the industry.

 

Childcare and Future Workers

In the US overall, K-12 education is falling behind. Often, students do not have the skills they need to learn by the time they reach kindergarten, resulting in difficulty keeping up throughout their education. The report explains that children begin learning at birth, and that developmental gaps can be observed among children as young as 9 months. “Cognitive, social, and emotional development is driven almost entirely by time- and attention-intensive adult nurture and care,” the report explains.

Because this is how children learn and develop, there should be little distinction between childcare and early childhood education. Not only does early childcare set the foundation for success in K-12 education, children begin learning soft skills (and the ability to gain further soft skills later in life) before they turn five. Failing to educate young children both puts them at a great disadvantage and creates a limited workforce in the future.

 

Childcare and Today’s Workers

Childcare has a great impact on workforce participation and, on a smaller scale, turnover rates. Many workers have difficulty accessing quality childcare, which affects their ability to find or keep a job.

Today’s education system was designed at a time when most children stayed at home with a parent until attending kindergarten. Today, almost two-thirds of all mothers work outside the home—a sevenfold increase since 1940. 80% of all working parents say that access to childcare is important in their decision to work for a company.

However, many parents of young children are faced with an inability to afford quality childcare at all. As a result, many are out of the workforce altogether. 70% of nonworking poor cite “taking care of home/family as the reason they are not in the workforce. Similarly, childcare issues keep many from earning postsecondary degrees or certificates.

Many people are choosing to have children later in life, often in their 30s. For employers, this can create a problem when employees in “valuable midcareer roles” will be more expensive and difficult to replace if they must quit their jobs because of childcare concerns.

 

How Employers Can Get Involved

Employers should get involved in childcare, whether it is by assisting their own employees with childcare concerns or using their influence to improve policy concerning the childcare industry. Consider providing on-site, quality childcare for employees, or collaborating with local providers to offer solutions for those struggling to access childcare.

For more information about improving childcare, read the full report here.