Business Leaders and Lieutenant Governor Morales Announce New Report
Business leaders, Lieutenant Governor Morales, and others joined a panel discussion to announce a new ReadyNation report
New Mexico’s child care sector is in crisis. The global health pandemic has adversely impacted vital child care programs. That impact, in turn, threatens the state’s economic recovery. Working parents, especially those of young children, know how difficult it is to find child care that is affordable, accessible, and of high quality. To better support working parents, children, and New Mexico’s economy, lawmakers must expand programs that enhance the affordability, availability, and quality of child care.
That was the key takeaway from a ReadyNation panel discussion on Monday. Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales and ReadyNation members participated in the discussion, which accompanied the release of the new report entitled “Want to Strengthen New Mexico’s Economy? Fix the Child Care Crisis.” The report underscores how the child care sector plays an important role in our state and national economic stability.
Tom Garrity, President & CEO, The Garrity Group Public Relations introduced and moderated the event. Council for a Strong America’s Director of Research Sandra Bishop then summarized the report’s findings. In New Mexico, the annual cost of a lack of reliable child care for working parents of children up to age 3 could come to $570 million. That figure stems from damage done to worker productivity, earnings, and revenue.
The statewide economic hit is enormous. Lieutenant Governor Morales discussed the need for a commitment to improving child care in New Mexico. “I speak on this from a personal perspective because I deal with it every day,” the father of young children shared. “New Mexico has really taken a step forward in dealing with early childhood education issues. We’re taking a whole community approach. It’s important that we involve and collaborate with local communities and businesses to improve child care in our state.”
Business leaders have long understood the detrimental impact of a fragile child care system on the economy. Pat Dee, the recently-retired Managing Director of U.S. Bank Wealth Management in New Mexico, offered insights from his 40-plus-year career. “I’ve seen the impact of New Mexico’s lack of accessible, high-quality childcare programs firsthand,” Dee said. “Parents are distracted at work, some have to reduce their hours, and others lose their jobs because of child care issues. The turnover that results from this has a big impact on businesses in terms of morale, training costs acquired, and more.”
Terri Cole, President & CEO, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, spoke about how a lack of high-quality child care programs can lead to severe economic consequences. Cole has been working on this issue since 1999. “It’s imperative that we support access to affordable, high-quality child care,” she stated. “This access will be a key ingredient in our economic recovery.”
High-quality child care makes New Mexico and the nation stronger in every way. Retired Brigadier General Judy Griego, U.S. Air Force, former New Mexico Secretary of Veterans Services, and Mission: Readiness member concluded the event by discussing how high-quality child care can improve national security. An astounding 74 percent of 17 to 24-year-olds in New Mexico cannot qualify for military service, mostly because of educational issues, a lack of physical fitness, or involvement with crime or drug use. “High-quality child care programs foster an environment that allows children to grow socially, emotionally, and academically,” Griego explained. “They give our kids the building blocks to succeed in whatever career they choose.”
Early in the event, Lieutenant Governor Morales eloquently explained that this year has challenged Americans to look at the world not as it is, but how it should be. One key message from the event was that working parents should return to work with ease, reassured that their children are in a loving, safe, supportive, and stimulating environment. That peace of mind will play an important role in recovering and strengthening New Mexico’s economy, and the nation as a whole.
A full video of the event may be found below.
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