According to state-by-state data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hundreds of thousands of employees each year miss work because of child care challenges, ranging from nearly 1 in 5 in Alabama down to 1 in 14 in Rhode Island. Across the United States, up to 20% of employees who missed work were absent because of child care issues. 

In late 2022, analysis of BLS numbers from economist Kathryn Anne Edwards found that parents missing work due to breakdowns in the child care system nationwide might be in the range of 1.3 to 2.4 million working parents. 


  • Parents need child care to go to work. There are approximately 11.4 million children under the age of 3 across the nation, with 14.1 million working parents who rely on child care to do their jobs.
  • But parents can’t find child care. Almost three quarters of working parents recently reported that access to child care is a challenge. And more than half said it is a significant challenge to find child care that is either affordable or high quality.
  • And even if they can find it, the cost of child care is “untenable for families”. A new report by the U.S. Department of Labor found that the cost of child care is untenable for families across all care types, age groups, and county population sizes.
  • This hurts working families and businesses. In a recent survey done by FFYF, one out of every five parents report having to cut back on work hours, turn down a job opportunity, or leave the workforce entirely due to child care issues.  In that same poll, 1 in 3 small business owners reported dealing with multiple child care rooted workforce problems in the past 12 months.
  • And this has a devastating impact on the United States economy and global competitiveness. According to a new report by ReadyNation, the nation’s infant-toddler child care crisis now costs America’s economy $122 billion, more than double the $57 billion the same study found it was costing in 2018.

The Solution: Investing in America’s child care system is a good move for America’s economy. Congress must come together to strengthen and invest in our federal early learning and care programs so that families can have access to reliable high-quality, affordable child care they depend on.


StatePercentage of employed workers absent from work who missed work for child care reasonsNumber of employed workers who missed work, annual average in thousandsNumber of employed workers who missed work for child care reasons, annual average in thousands
2South Carolina18.31%7113
3District of Columbia18.18%112