Quality child care for working parents is vital and it yields benefits on multiple levels, but the solutions for boosting the availability of affordable and flexible care are complex.
Families and employers, as well as our educational and governmental systems, all share a huge stake in the quality care of the children of working parents so meaningful and long-term solutions will likely result from collaboration and contributions from the private, social, economic and government sectors.
Conversation and awareness offer a great place to start, and the work of the United Way of Pennsylvania, which conducted recent statewide research, is enlightening.
In a statewide survey of ALICE families — those who are asset limited, income constrained and employed — the United Way of Pennsylvania found that during the pandemic, 57 percent either had to reduce their hours or leave their job because of a lack of child care and 45 percent had to adjust their work schedules to accommodate their needs.
A separate statewide survey of employers cited in the United Way report found that 38 percent of businesses indicated child care as a moderate to high need for employees, and 54 percent believe they lost workers during the pandemic because of child care issues.
“Accessible and affordable high-quality child care is essential for working parents to secure employment, succeed in their job and advance in their careers,” said Kristen Rotz, president of the United Way of Pennsylvania. “Businesses need child care to improve recruitment, retention and productivity of their employees.”
There clearly are shared benefits of quality child care that cross many lines and extend through various personal and economic levels. So perhaps the solutions should come from all sides as well.
This is not an issue that will be solved by parents, employers, schools or governments alone. Let’s continue to encourage dialogue, collaboration and contributions among leaders from multiple sectors, all working toward the ultimate goal of available, high-quality and affordable care for the children of working parents, as well as the incalculable benefits that will result.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.