Congressional Briefing: Child Care Solutions Will Boost Our Nation’s Economy
ReadyNation Business Executives Jack Brennan and Stephanie Doliveira joined Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) at a Capitol Hill briefing to highlight the severe economic damage caused by a lack of affordable, high-quality child care.
The devastating infant-and-toddler child care crisis that deals a massive $57 billion in economic damage to our nation each year by leaving working parents distracted and unfocused at work, and young children without needed, high-quality supports, requires strong, bipartisan action.
That was the powerful message sent by a panel of ReadyNation senior business executives on Tuesday at a Capitol Hill briefing entitled “Child Care Solutions Will Boost Our Nation’s Economy.” The briefing highlighted the recent ReadyNation report that details the immense economic harm done by the crisis.
The panel included ReadyNation members Jack Brennan (Chairman Emeritus, former CEO, and Senior Advisor of Vanguard) and Stephanie Doliveira (Vice President of Human Resources, Sheetz, Inc.), and Council for a Strong America Director of Research Sandra Bishop-Josef, the report’s principal author. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) attended and offered remarks. Her office co-hosted the event with Representative Cheri Bustos’ (D-IL) office.
Brennan stressed the debilitating impact that a lack of child care options can have on employees, observing that “When parents do not have reliable, affordable child care, their work suffers. People who are happiest at home are the ones who are most effective at the office.” Brennan went on to underscore earlier points that Bishop-Josef made about the three-fold problem of child care: That it is too expensive, too scarce, and not of high enough quality.
Brennan also pointed out that the child care crisis isn’t just a problem in the present. Instead, he said, “the child care crisis will have a negative effect on our future economy,” by impacting the workforce pipeline. Because the ages zero to three are such a crucial time of brain development, young children without high-quality supports, Brennan explained, will have a harder time developing “the skills that every career will need,” such as resiliency, empathy, and teamwork.
“It’s not just about individual families or even individual children. It’s a workforce development issue,” said Brennan. “The only way we can stay competitive as a country is to give our youngest the opportunity to start well.”
Stephanie Doliveira drew from her years of expertise in the HR field to emphasize the significant effects that affordable, high-quality child care access can have on a working parent’s career. She spoke of her personal connection to the crisis, explaining that “I was drawn to this issue for three reasons. First, I’m always thinking about our current employees … but I’m also thinking about our future workforce. Third, as a mother … I want every child in America to have access to the same [opportunities] as my two children had.”
She further emphasized the three root causes of the crisis—access, affordability, and quality. And, agreeing with the ReadyNation report’s findings that parents of young children struggle at work without access to affordable, high-quality care, Doliveira discussed the decision Sheetz made to help its employees with these challenges. “We believe that helping employees access child care is not only the right thing to do, it really is a business decision to ensure we have great people working for us.”
She was quick to note, however, that private companies alone can’t stop the child care crisis, saying that leveraging public programs, like the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is essential to the effort. Doliveira also urged Congress to “explore how to incentivize child care operating hours to meet when parents need it, not just 8-6,” as well as to support expansion into underserved areas such as rural communities.
Both business leaders stressed that there is significant, bipartisan momentum for fighting the child care crisis, and that sustaining federal funding through CCDBG, as well as measures that improve quality and expand access, are critical to winning the battle.
In her remarks, Representative Roby agreed that the child care crisis has become a particularly important issue as more and more women have entered the workforce. She added, “I think that it’s time that policymakers, in collaboration with private-sector counterparts, come together to find a better way to offer affordable, accessible child care to working American families.”
Brennan and Doliveira also had the opportunity before and after the briefing to meet and discuss the crisis with Representatives Lloyd Smucker, John Joyce, and Brian Fitzpatrick, all from the ReadyNation members’ home state of Pennsylvania. The productive series of meetings helped drive home the impact that the child care crisis is having on businesses throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. Continued bipartisan Congressional support for child care funding will be an essential tool in combating this crisis.
A selection of photographs from the briefing and meetings may be found below.