Nearly two-thirds of women with children under the age of six are in the workforce and, in addition to figuring out what to make for dinner and how they’re going to make ends meet month after month, many parents worry about whether or not their child is receiving high-quality child care – whether they’re learning, making friends, and enjoying a safe and happy childhood. These concerns weigh on the minds of working parents, affecting their workday, their productivity and, as a result, businesses and the economy overall.
On June 5, the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), in partnership with PepsiCo, convened a roundtable in Miami to discuss these topics and the importance of increased state and federal investments in child care for families, providers, and the business community. The event, held at the United Way Center for Excellence in Early Learning, brought together a diverse set of local voices and featured child care advocates, a parent, a child care provider, a community leader, a state representative, and the president of a local chamber of commerce.
Bringing this wide array of people to the table created a rich environment for conversation and brought a variety of fresh perspectives.
In particular, Alfred Sanchez, the President and CEO of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, laid out a strong business case for child care saying that child care/early learning is one of the chamber’s top three legislative priorities, along with transportation and housing.
That is not surprising to hear. Parents need child care in order to work, and they need it to be reliable and high-quality. When parents are worried or anxious about their child care arrangement, productivity declines. And if a child care arrangement falls through, a parent may not be able to go to work. This is all bad for business and bad for the economy. Absenteeism hurts businesses’ bottom lines by disrupting the standard work flow, leading to delays and lost profits. Employee turnover is also incredibly costly for employers and it is important to retain good employees—whether they are fathers or mothers. Thus, ensuring that parents have access to affordable and reliable high-quality child care not only helps parents be better at their jobs, but it helps business’ bottom line.
Beyond the benefits that access to high-quality child care would give to our current workforce, high-quality child care and early learning set the stage for our future workforce to arrive at school ready to succeed on day one. Additionally, children gain important social and emotional skills in their early years that they will use when they enter the workforce themselves.
Businesses such as PepsiCo and business groups such as local chambers of commerce have critical roles to play in the debate around public investments in child care. They are uniquely positioned to highlight the broad economic benefits and market advantages of increased public investment. They show the crucial importance of access to high-quality child care to not just parents and children, but also to business and the economy as a whole.