ReadyNation Members Need Governors to Stay Engaged on Child Care Crisis
Employers can’t do it alone
Child care in America is in crisis, and we need America’s best public policy minds to be engaged in building solutions. I recently had the opportunity to discuss the crisis with governors and former governors who have been engaged on early childhood issues throughout their careers. That opportunity came via the Hunt Institute’s annual Governors’ Education Symposium in Utah last month. The Institute is a North-Carolina-based organization focused on improving public education and childhood supports.
I went to Utah to make sure the governors understand that our child care crisis started before the pandemic, that the pandemic made it worse, and that many business leaders, including executives who are members of ReadyNation, know the employer community has to play a significant role in a solution.
But I reminded them that the business community can’t do it alone, and that more state and federal help is needed. The child care crisis is too big for any of the involved parties to solve by themselves. Business leaders, working parents, and federal and state policymakers must all play an active role in finding solutions.
Working parents need reliable, affordable, high-quality child care so that they can be focused and “present” at work. Knowing that their infants and toddlers are in high-quality child care means that these parents will be more productive. They’ll also have better career prospects and earnings themselves. Infants and toddlers need high-quality child care programs for the sake of healthy cognitive, social, and emotional development. These programs can help set the stage for successful educational and life outcomes, including productive, rewarding careers down the road.
I was able to share with the governors compelling examples of what individual ReadyNation members are doing to meet child care challenges. For example, Lyndsay Schreiber, Human Resources Director for Pioneer Bank & Trust in Rapid City, South Dakota worked with Pioneer employees who struggled to secure child care during the pandemic. The employees sat down with the executive team at Pioneer and created a child care reimbursement program that pays $5,000 per year in child care expenses. There has been more gratitude from Pioneer employees about this benefit than any other.
While that and similar examples show that many business leaders are willing to do their part, they need public-sector partnership. A ReadyNation survey last year of hundreds of business leaders showed that more than three-quarters of them believe federal or state government incentives would increase the likelihood that their company would expand the child care supports offered to employees. Government officials at all levels must understand that, if they don’t provide the necessary investments in child care, they’ll be paying the bill for more expensive problems later.
Our child care policy strategy at Council for a Strong America and ReadyNation is to bring the players together, participate in meetings like the Hunt Institute’s governors’ gathering, and help build the public support that will make substantial and sustained public investments in high-quality early childhood supports a reality at the federal and state levels. I’m grateful to the Hunt Institute for inviting me to participate, and grateful to our ReadyNation members, who continue to be constructive problem solvers as we work toward a solution to the child care crisis.