Lack of childcare options affecting the US economy

(LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON- Across the country, parents are struggling to find childcare while they work.

Of the 14 million parents with children under three, 78% are working. Many of them can’t find reliable daycare for their kids.

A recent study from The Council for a Strong America and ReadyNation outlined the impact of poor childcare options in the United States. The report says a lack of childcare options costs the United States $57 billion annually.

On March 26, Representative Cheri Bustos will speak in Washington about how the shortage of affordable, high-quality child care harms economic growth.

The issues

  • Accessibility: 32% of working parents have difficulty finding childcare, especially those who work night shifts or live in rural areas.
  • Cost: In 28 states the average cost of center-based child care costs more than public college, including Illinois.
  • Quality: Only 11% of childcare nationwide is accredited, resulting in a lack of stable care-giving for children.

Impacts on the economy

The report says child care problems distract working parents. The time and stress from finding child care make them miss work, pass up career opportunities,

  • Two-thirds of working parents facing childcare struggles have to leave work early.
  • Over half reported being distracted or missing full days of work to look after their kids.
  • 86% of the primary caregiver said problems with child care hurt their productivity and time at work.
  • One in five have been reprimanded, 8% fired, and just over one in ten have been demoted or transferred.

The issues add up. Less time at work means lower income and worse career prospects down the line. All this, plus the stress working parents face, can have harmful impacts on children.

Furthermore, child-care issues affect the workplace.

  • High turnover reduces workplace morale and increase the need for additional training.
  • Employers lose $12.7 billion annually due to the problems workers have finding reliable childcare.

Reduced pay for working parents also impacts tax revenue.Every year taxpayers lose on average $630 per working parent in lower income tax and sales tax. This adds up to $7 billion lost in tax revenue.

What is being done?

Multiple groups are trying to address what some are calling the “childcare crisis.”

  • A federal grant from the Office of Child Care Support gives low-income families support for child-care needs. The Child Care and Development
    Block Grant aids 24,300 families in Illinois and 9,600 in Iowa.
  • Some businesses are doing their part to help employees find accessible child care. For example, Iowa-based Casey’s General Store has a Child Development Center in Ankeny, IA.
  • A new Illinois law went into effect February 19 to provide more childcare for families with children at risk of entering the child welfare system.

Reliable childcare helps working parents stay focused on their jobs and build successful careers.

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