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Child Care Crisis Costing U.S. $122 Billion, New Report Finds

Resource February 2, 2023

To support a strong workforce and a robust economy, Congress and President Biden must support child care policy. Ahead of State of the Union, a new report by ReadyNation has found that breakdowns in America’s child care system are costing our economy $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.

First Five Years Fund (FFYF) Executive Director Sarah Rittling released the following statement in response: 

“America’s child care crisis isn’t just holding back working parents, infants, and toddlers it’s actively harming our economy,” said FFYF Executive Director Sarah Rittling. “America’s economic success depends on elected officials helping parents find and afford the options they need, and ensuring providers in every community can afford to remain open and staffed by early educators. The report released by our colleagues at ReadyNation joins a steady stream of data and rationales to support the need for action.”

Topline Takeaways from the ReadyNation Report: 

  • 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 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 when they do find it, they can’t afford it. 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.  And, 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. 

Small businesses are feeling the painRecent polling from FFYF found that one in three small businesses has dealt with multiple child care rooted workforce problems in the past 12 months. Today’s report confirmed that problems with child care significantly reduce how much time parents spend at work. Nearly half of parents reported having to reduce their work hours and more than one-third had their hours or pay reduced, and one third of parents changed from full-time to part-time work.

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.

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