On February 25th, the Louisiana Policy Institute, the Louisiana Early Childhood Business Roundtable, and the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry (LABI) hosted an early education business briefing to celebrate Early Ed Month 2022. First Five Years Fund Executive Director Sarah Rittling joined the inaugural business briefing as this year’s keynote speaker to discuss the importance of child care and the impacts it has on the workforce and the economy.
Sarah was joined by leaders in the business and policy community, including:
Philip May, President and CEO of Entergy Louisiana, an electric utility that serves more than one million customers in Louisiana
Stephen Waguespack, President of Louisiana Association of Business & Industry
Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children
Candace Weber, M.B.A., Director of Partnerships at the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children
Read excerpts from Sarah’s address on the importance of child care and our economy:
We have never been closer to securing the kind of investment in early learning and care that we desperately need in this country – not to upend what’s happening in Louisiana or Baton Rouge but to support it and sustain it.
And let me be clear, we desperately need it. Inaction isn’t an option.
Today, 26.8 million people — that’s 16% of the U.S. workforce — rely on child care in order to go to work.
Over half of Americans live in a child care desert, where there are 3 children for every 1 available child care slot.
Since 1990, average child care costs have risen 214%, far outpacing the increase in average family income and increases in other major household expenses like housing and groceries.
More than 1 in 4 parents say they’ve had to choose between paying for child care or paying their rent or mortgage on time.
40% of parents now say they have gone into debt to pay for child care, and 28% say they’ve had to choose between paying for child care or paying their rent or mortgage on time. Half of parents in the U.S. report spending at least 25% of their income on child care.
A new U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report shows that states are losing out on upwards of $9.39 billion in economic activity each year due to child care disparities and breakdowns.
Parents lose about $30-35 billion in income because they can’t afford to even get their child in the door of a care center.
Louisiana alone is missing out on close to $1 billion a year. That’s because 68% of children under six in the state of Louisiana have all available parents in the workforce. Those parents can’t work if they don’t have child care.
That same Chamber Foundation report shows that 40% of employers are concerned about employees not being able to return to work due to lack of child care arrangements.
And it isn’t just stats. The President held a roundtable in late January with CEOs during which child care came up repeatedly.
Microsoft President Brad Smith underscored the challenges Americans are facing when it comes to accessing child care, stating: “And in America today, there are two groups of people who are challenged when it comes to taking care of their children. For some, they can’t afford to pay for child care. And that’s where the provisions of Build Back Better that focus on low-income people who want to work or who want to get training to work, I think, is precisely focused on what matters to people. The second group of people that is challenged is people who can afford to pay for child care but what they’re finding is that child care centers themselves don’t have enough trained people. And your initiative addresses that as well.” Smith also stated that child care is key to workforce participation: “What we see is, we need to do more to help bring Americans back to work and one of the key ingredients that we see is that people can only come back to work if they have a way to take care of their children.”