Aligning Childcare with the Needs of the Workforce and Economy
One third of the U.S. workforce, or an estimated 50 million workers, has a child under the age of 14 in their household.
In 2021, Harvard Business Review conducted a national survey of 2,500 working parents and the results were quite telling.
Nearly 20% of working parents had to leave work or reduce their work hours solely due to a lack of childcare, and only 30% of all working parents had any form of back-up childcare.
Even before the pandemic, inadequate childcare was costing working parents 37 billion dollars a year in lost income and employers 13 billion dollars a year in lost productivity.
History reveals that periods of struggle have stimulated change in employee benefits. The Great Depression brought Social Security. World War II and the Stabilization Act brought the first health insurance benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic offers us another opportunity to create change for working parents.
So, how do we align childcare with the needs our workforce and economy? There are a few options garnering increased interest.
- Create support structures for caregivers at work
- Offer flexible work schedules and remote work for parents
- Increase childcare subsidies as employee benefits
- Provide on-site or local childcare spaces and supervision
The sooner employers treat childcare with the same seriousness as health care and other aspects of businesses infrastructure, the faster employees can get back to full force.