Report | March 16, 2021

Want to Strengthen Wisconsin’s Economy? Fix the Child Care Crisis

Impact of child care challenges felt by families, employers, and taxpayers

Wisconsin’s working parents know how difficult it is to find child care that’s accessible, affordable, and high-quality. This problem is particularly acute for parents of very young children, as infant and toddler care is typically the least available and most expensive. Further, children under age three are experiencing one of the most crucial periods of brain development. Wisconsin employers know the economic impact of these child care challenges, that will only worsen as the child care crisis continues, particularly with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our national study examining the economic impacts of the nation’s infant-toddler child care crisis on working parents, employers, and taxpayers describes the consequences: an annual cost of $57 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue. An overwhelming 86 percent of primary caregivers of infants and toddlers said problems with child care hurt their efforts or time commitment at work. Meanwhile, productivity problems cause employers to lose $12.7 billion annually due to child care challenges faced by their workforce.

The business leaders of ReadyNation in Wisconsin are urging lawmakers to continue to invest in quality child care – and to foster continuing innovations at the state and local level that address this problem for parents and employers. In particular, given the COVID-19 crisis, the state legislature needs to support the child care system now, so as Wisconsinites go back to work, child care is available, affordable, and high quality.

The stakes are enormously high for the many Wisconsin families, who depend on parents’ employment, as well as for children, who depend on nurturing, stimulating environments for healthy brain development during the first three years of life. Action and innovation now will improve life outcomes for Wisconsin children today and strengthen the Wisconsin workforce and economy both now and in the years to come.

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  1. Wisconsin