Childcare is in crisis.  Although the childcare crisis has been growing for many years,  the direct effects have been felt almost exclusively by families in which both parents are employed.  The COVID pandemic, during which a critical mass of families all had to alter their employment availability at the same time, dramatically broadened awareness the childcare crisis has on American business.  The abrupt closure of childcare facilities during COVID caused an exodus of employed parents, more often the mothers rather than the fathers, from their places of employment and resulted in a virtual crippling of the  business community due to the staggering loss of a large portion of their workforce.  The effect was similar to a called strike, as there was an immediate emptying of the work place due to childcare issues.  The issue was thus elevated from an individual family crisis to a broadly recognized business and economic crisis.

There is considerable data illustrating the financial impact on businesses related to their employees facing child care issues.  A 2019 study commissioned by the Washington Association for Business (AWB) and the Washington State Department of Commerce  estimated that 27% of Washington’s workforce left their employment due to childcare issues and 59% arrived late or left early for the same reason. The Center for American Progress in a 2012 report estimated the average cost of turnover for employers is about one fifth of that worker’s total compensation package. The direct financial impact on employers for turnover was estimated at $2.03 billion, arriving late or leaving early was $53.4 million.  Estimates in other states ranged from $479 million to $3.47 billion in losses due to childcare related issues. These facts suggest that if employers were able to recoup even a portion of those losses by supporting quality childcare options for their employees, it would be an excellent investment.  A 2021 report in the Harvard Business Review stated, “The sooner employers treat childcare with the same seriousness as healthcare and other aspects of business infrastructure, the faster employees can get back to full force.”

As the country recovers from the COVID pandemic, there is no better time than now to begin a problem-solving dialogue involving government, business and childcare to explore creative ways of solving the childcare crisis.