What Higher Childcare Costs and Fewer Childcare Staff Mean for the U.S. Economy
The pandemic has exposed just how broken the country’s child care system is: it costs parents too much and pays employees too little. More than half of the country’s inhabitants live in a childcare desert.
A recent report by ReadyNation, a coalition of business leaders, reveals the impact of these cracks on the nation’s economy, including individual taxpayers.
According to the report, insufficient care for children under 3 drains the country of $122 billion each year in lost earnings, productivity and income. That’s more than double the $57 billion in losses in 2018, according to the analysis.
“The country’s economy rests on the shoulders of early childhood and education teachers, and the system they find themselves in is on the brink of collapse,” said Allyx Schiavone, a prominent advocate for the Connecticut Early Childhood Education, at an event on Tuesday meant to reiterate calls for increased federal investment in child care before Tuesday State of the Union.
“When parents can’t find childcare, they can’t work. It’s very simple,” continued Schiavone, who will be a guest on Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut during President Joe Biden’s speech. “And when they can’t work, families and businesses suffer. Building a better child care system is the best opportunity to unlock the power of our country’s economy.
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Especially when compared to other developed countries, the United States invests very little in child care. Companies that employ Americans tend not to invest much in such care either.
As a result, nearly 3 in 4 parents surveyed said accessing childcare was a challenge. And it hurts them at work: nearly one in three parents said they had been reprimanded at work because of childcare issues, and about a quarter said they had quit or been fired.
Meanwhile, 41% said these issues forced them to turn down a new job offer. Thirty-six percent said they refused to continue their education and training.
“When I needed daycare to put a roof over my children’s heads and food on the table, I couldn’t afford it or find it,” said lawyer Angélica María González. and mother of five, at Tuesday’s event. . González will be a guest of Senator Patty Murray on Tuesday night.
“I got amazing jobs that…I had to turn down,” she continued, “because I couldn’t get babysitting. I was in the position of looking for babysitting. children and not being able to find her within a 60 mile radius I found extra jobs so I could pay for child care so I could keep my main job.
In total, parents of infants and toddlers lose $78 billion a year in lost income and job search expenses due to inadequate child care.
It is bad for infants and toddlers too.
“Beyond its impact on the workforce and economy today,” notes the ReadyNation report, “the infant and toddler child care crisis is harming the workforce. future work by depriving children of nurturing and nurturing environments that promote healthy brain development while their parents are working.”
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Childcare challenges also indirectly affect companies that employ these parents through lost productivity.
Nearly 2 in 3 parents said they were late for work or had to leave early due to child care issues. More than half said these difficulties distracted them or caused them to miss entire days of work. The vast majority said the lack of childcare undermined their efforts and time at work.
These productivity issues, according to ReadyNation, cost employers $23 billion a year — and taken together hurt income and sales tax revenues. ReadyNation concludes that taxpayers lose an average of nearly $1,500 per working parent each year.
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Ahead of SOTU, members of Congress call for more federal support
The pre-State of the Union event was called by Murray, a washington state Democrat and former preschool teacher who for years has been pushing for reforms to the child care system.
Murray introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act — legislation that inspired Biden’s platform and would cap a family’s child care expenses at 7% of their income — each congress since 2017.
Under President Joe Biden, Murray and other supporters have been successful in securing increases in child care funding, but their more ambitious proposals have struggled to make progress.
Biden’s Build Back Better, which would have limited a family’s child care spending to a maximum of 7% of their income, failed to overcome the partisan gridlock in Congress. And efforts to extend the child care credit in the age of the pandemic, which has temporarily contributed to historic reductions in the child poverty rate, have fallen flat.
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Murray asked his congressional colleagues to wear pencil pins – “Crayons for Kids” – during the State of the Union to draw attention to the issue.
“Child care is infrastructure, just like our roads and bridges. Child care is essential to a healthy and inclusive economy,” said Democratic Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, now House Minority Whip. “There is no economic recovery without child care.”
Contact Alia Wong at (202) 507-2256 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @aliaemily.