Want to Strengthen South Dakota’s Economy? Fix the Child Care Crisis
Impact of infant-toddler child care challenges felt by families, employers, and taxpayers
South Dakota 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 3 are experiencing one of the most crucial periods of brain development. South Dakota employers know that the economic impact of these child care challenges will only worsen as the child care crisis continues.
Our 2019 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. Losses for South Dakota are estimated at $146 million per year.
High-quality child care gives parents the ability to work and children the opportunity to grow.
Tom Johnson, President & CEO, Elevate Rapid City
The business leaders of ReadyNation in South Dakota are calling on lawmakers to protect and expand programs that enhance the affordability and availability of quality child care—and to foster continuing innovations at the state and local level that address this problem for parents and employers. Policymakers must improve the quality and affordability of current infant-toddler programs, expand the supply of quality infant-toddler child care, and ensure adequate compensation to stabilize the child care workforce.
COVID-19 has shone a light on an already struggling industry. Now is the time to ensure that our child care system works for South Dakota families. The stakes are enormously high for the many 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 outcomes for South Dakota children today and strengthen the South Dakota workforce and economy both now and in the years to come.