Skip Navigation

Top Themes from the National Child Care Innovation Summit

Resource July 8, 2024

“I’m here because child care is not only a social issue or a women’s issue. It is also an economic issue. In fact, I’d argue it’s one of the most critical economic issues affecting families, businesses, and communities today.”

With that, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo kicked off the National Child Care Innovation Summit last week. Hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the U.S. Department of Commerce, the day brought together elected officials, policy leaders, corporate executives and child care experts with one mission: How do we drive real and lasting progress on child care in this country? 

It was a packed day and an inspirational one. Video for all eight hours of content is available, but in a nutshell, here are a few themes that really jumped out:

1)      Child care is a workforce issue.

“Child care is not just a women’s issue, it’s a family issue, and most importantly, it’s a workforce issue.” – Rep. Ashley Hinson (R., IA) 

It wasn’t very long ago that child care was seen as a personal problem, something for families (moms) to figure out on their own. No longer; the clear message at the summit underscored that corporate stakeholders understand that affordable, quality child care is essential for working families, yes, but also for coworkers and employers, for competitive businesses and healthy communities.

 2)      Employers want to be part of the solution.  

“You can do well and you can do good at the same time.” – Fred Acuri, Corning Inc.

“This isn’t charitable. This is about making our business better and stronger.”   Josh Silverman, Etsy 

From Micro Technology to UPS and IBM, from Etsy to Corning, Mazda Toyota and Chobani, the message was clear: Strong child care is essential to growth and prosperity in our country. Business  leaders talked at length about the need to offer child care support and benefits to attract and retain top talent, which in turn allowed them to retain a competitive edge.

3)      Innovation is already happening.

“We were losing 36% of employees. [After we started a child care pilot program], that went down to 4%.” – Nando Cesarone, Executive Vice President & U.S. President, UPS

“Our manufacturing employees are in a lot of places where there are child care deserts. … A one-size-fits-all solution was not going to be the answer for our team. We needed to figure out how to get more child care into these markets.” Shari Eaton, Chief People Officer, Chobani

As we’ve seen in multiple polls and reports recently, employers say that providing child care benefits have a positive impact on talent recruitment (81%), retention (80%), and productivity (82%). This was echoed across multiple businesses and sectors throughout the day, with companies detailing on-site child care options, emergency and back-up care plans, flexible child care spending account benefits and more.

4)      But corporate America can’t do this on its own. This takes involvement across the public and private sectors.

“Families can’t afford care and providers need to get paid more, so how are we going to do that? Ultimately you have to have employers and the government involved to pay for the cost of that child care.”  –Jessica Chang, CEO, Upwards

Even with growing support from states, businesses, and philanthropy, federal funding still makes up the majority of investment in child care and early learning in the United States. But current funding and policies still only scratch the surface when it comes to need. By prioritizing child care funding and working to modernize child care tax benefits, the federal government can drive support for both working families and the employers looking to be part of the solution.

5)  And, above all, this is about the kids.

“Child care is foundational to everything that we aim to accomplish … One path obviously equips our children with the developmental and socialization skills and resources and teaches them how to learn to read so they can read to learn later in life…And the other pathway obviously leads them down a different path it ends up costing us more down the road collectively so, in my opinion, either we’re going to pay now or we’re going to pay later.” — Gov. Eric Holcomb (R., Ind.)

The heart of this issue is still our children. At the end of the day, investing in early learning programs ensures young children have a strong foundation for success in school and life. 

Bottom Line: All of these sectors feel the impact; they are all also part of the solution. When states, employers and, above all, the federal government prioritize, innovate, and commit to solutions, the impact can be seismic.

Let’s keep working!

Stay Updated

Receive monthly updates on the latest news, policy, and actions to advance federal investment in children and their families.