Recovery Means Having a Stable Child Care Sector
To help our economy recover, we must support child care businesses and providers
Throughout my three-decade-long career, I have seen time and time again how important the child care industry is to our economy. Giving our young generation the tools it needs to be successful in education, work, and life creates positive economic impacts in the short- and long-term. Working parents need access to high-quality, affordable child care for the benefit of their children, themselves, and their places of work. Investing in the child care industry is investing in our nation’s present and future.
Our economy is suffering. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented economic impact, with many companies, large and small, struggling to stay afloat. Child care businesses bear especially complicated responsibilities during the health crisis. Widespread stay-at-home orders have many Americans teleworking or filing for unemployment. Now that more parents are at home with their children, many child care providers are trying to keep their heads above water. Local authorities may also require them to stay open, only adding to their financial hardships.
While child care businesses and providers are in survival mode, working families at the front lines of this pandemic need their services. Health care professionals, first responders, grocery store workers, delivery personnel, and others are still going into work. And our DTE Energy employees are also on the ground each and every day making sure that households and essential services have the necessary power to operate. All of these workers are in dire need of care for their children at home.
Child care providers must remain strong during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, as they will play a crucial role in America’s economic recovery.
This strain comes at an already fragile time for the child care industry. Our nation has been embroiled in a significant infant-and-toddler child care crisis for years now. How significant is this crisis? A 2019 ReadyNation report found that 86 percent of parents who are primary caregivers said problems with child care hurt their efforts or time commitment at work. The report also found that productivity problems cause employers to lose $12.7 billion each year due to child care challenges faced by their workforce. As a result, this and more contribute to a $57 billion annual economic impact in the U.S.
Our child care sector is already compromised and may become even weaker at the very time that it will be needed most.
If working parents don’t have access to child care as America begins to reopen, they’ll have to adjust their re-entry into the workforce. This adjustment will significantly stunt our economy’s post-COVID-19 recovery, as well as potentially harm the children of working families by preventing them from being in high-quality, supportive environments.
This health crisis presents a battle we must face on several fronts and like all Americans, I want to win. But to do so, we must recognize the important role that the child care industry plays in the development of our children and our economy’s recovery.
Strengthening and expanding child care across the country will empower working parents to go back to work, helping ensure that our economy is on track to recover post-COVID-19. Meanwhile, children of working parents will find themselves in a positive environment that offers foundational skills that can help put them on a path toward future success. Now, more than ever, we need to support child care businesses and providers, to serve the needs of both our present and our future.
Nancy Moody is Vice President of Public Affairs for DTE Energy and Chair of the DTE Energy Foundation. She is a ReadyNation Advisory Board member and resides in Detroit, MI.
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