Maryland Business and Military Leaders Urge Legislators to Invest in Child Care
Our new research brief explains that a lack of affordable, accessible, high-quality child care undermine’s Maryland’s strength
Investing in Maryland child care can increase current employment, strengthen the future workforce, contribute to public safety, and enhance national security, according to a new research brief released at a press conference March 1. But the research brief, Child Care Challenges Undermine Maryland’s Strength, also warns that “ignoring the negative implications of inaccessible and unaffordable, quality child care can hamper Maryland’s future.” Council for a Strong America released the brief on March 1, the first day of Women’s History Month. Access to child care has a marked impact on female labor force participation. In fact, a lack of reliable child care was a major driver of women from the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. Investing in child care can help working parents, particularly mothers, return to work and be fully present knowing their children are safe and in a nurturing, educational environment.
Leaders from the military and business communities urged investments in early childhood programs at the event. The leaders discussed the research and urged bipartisan support by Maryland legislators on efforts to strengthen the child care safety net in Maryland, by passing bills such as Senate Bill 350 - House Bill 495, which would increase funding for the state’s Child Care Scholarship Program and make other changes to the program.
“Since the pandemic hit, Maryland has lost nearly 900 child care providers,” said ReadyNation member and Maryland Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Mary D. Kane. “As a result, Maryland companies are struggling to hire and retain employees, while, at the same time, Maryland families are fighting to find affordable, quality care and when they can’t, are being forced out of the job market.”
“Maryland families are bearing an enormous burden,” said retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Allyson Solomon. “Parents depend on child care to be able to work. Without child care they’re unable to work either at all or as much as they need to.” Solomon, a Maryland resident, is a member of Mission: Readiness and also serves on the Board of Directors of Council for a Strong America.
In February, Council for a Strong America released a report on the economic impact of the child care crisis on families with infants and toddlers up to age 3. The report revealed that the infant-toddler child care crisis costs the national economy a stunning $122 billion dollars a year, up from $57 billion a year just four years ago. In Maryland alone, the estimated damage to the economy each year is a sobering $2.2 billion dollars per year, up from $1.1 billion in 2019.
The leaders were joined by Ben Costa, the owner of Annapolis-based child care center Bay Country Learning Center. His center is thriving and has a waitlist, but before purchasing Bay Country, he opened a home-based center – because he and his family then lived in a child care “desert” and couldn’t find care for their kids.
Among the challenges Maryland faces, according to the research: Over half of Marylanders live in a child care desert—areas where there are either no child care providers or more than three children for every licensed child care slot. Infant care in Maryland averages $17,889 per year, more than state public college tuition, which averages $10,245. And early care teachers in Maryland are significantly undercompensated, with annual mean wages of less than half what kindergarten teachers make.
See photos from the event below: