Updated: Sep 9, 2021
In our previous blog article, we introduced the need for quality child care in Hampton Roads, and identified the first key reason: greater economic equity. Today, we look at the second one.
Key Reason 2: Quality early education child care programs help strengthen our current workforce.
For parents of young children who are working, access to high-quality care for their children will raise their productivity. Parents with reliable child care are shown to have fewer absences from work. That quality and reliability also consistently lowers the stress level for parents, as they spend not only less time trying to find care when their center abruptly closes, but also less mental strain worrying through the workday about their child's well-being.
As we mentioned in Part 1, a May 2021 survey of 800 households with children found only 29% of parents reported the child care arrangement they had at the start of the pandemic was open without any changes to hours or capacity, 19% of programs were open with limited hours, and 16% were open with limited spaces.
According to the same Council for a Strong America report we cited before, the “lack of reliable child care for working parents of young children, up to age 3, could come to a $1.7 billion in annual costs for Virginia.”
Families are struggling to find high-quality child care centers, whether due to limited spaces/slots, reduced income or fears of returning to work. Employers are anxious to fill positions rapidly to recover from the pandemic and regain the revenues they need to continue to grow. Women especially are often the ones staying home with their children, yet they are the ones who also have typically held positions in administration, home health care, hospitality and other jobs that remain unfilled.
Consider a December 2020 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report, “Piecing Together Solutions: The Importance of Childcare to U.S. Families and Businesses,” based on months of research. The report confirms that women are more likely to decline a new job opportunity than men (13% vs. 7%) and more likely to have left the workforce (9% vs. 2%). In the Council for a Strong America article, a quote by Mike Petters (president & CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, whose wife is a former preschool teacher), best explains the burden on our workforce:
“The infant-toddler child care crisis costs the U.S. $57 billion annually in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue. Investing in our youngest learners is critical for Virginia’s workforce and economy.”