That’s the bottom-line message from a new report released by ReadyNation.*
So, two questions readily come to mind: Is there a child care crisis? and Does child care really affect the economy? [The short answers are: yes and yes.]
The report’s eye-opening assessment is that the child care crisis costs parents, employers and taxpayers $57 billion annually in lost earnings, productivity and revenue.
How does this play out? First off, parents have a difficult time finding child care that fits their needs. For instance, for parents who work off hours, who live in an underserved area, or who simply cannot afford what’s available.
According to the report, 30 percent of respondents reported a challenge in finding child care that was affordable, high quality, convenient, had open slots, and could accommodate emergency scheduling.
Even if all other criteria are met, emergencies are the wild card. What if a child is sick, there’s a snow day, or a parent has to work overtime? More than one-half of parents say they have left work early, arrived late, missed a full day of work, or have been distracted at work due to child-care worries.
Putting children’s needs ahead of work expectations is not without consequences. More than half of respondents said they had been reprimanded, had pay or hours reduced, been fired or demoted due to unexpected time off to care for their children. At the very least, more than one-half of parents said they were less productive when they had child-care woes.
If not employer-related repercussions, many parents faced with child care issues decided to limit their own workforce participation. Some quit working, cut their hours, turned down a promotion or switched to part-time work to make up for a lack of suitable child care.
What does this all add up to? Lost earnings and lost jobs for parents; lost productivity and revenues for companies, as well as rehiring costs; and lost tax revenue due to lower GDP and lower sales consumption taxes.
What’s ReadyNation’s recommendation? Their ideas include:
Liberty Bank Foundation funds dozens of programs that help children grow to their full potential, as well as programs to get people back in the workforce. We call on everyone to support better child care because we’ll all benefit from a thriving economy.
* ReadyNation members include more than 2,300 business executives who are committed to promoting public policies and programs that build a stronger workforce and economy.