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The Stark Reality of The US Child Care Crisis During COVID-19 And Beyond

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The year 2020 marked the beginning of an unprecedented child care crisis in the United States. With many child care programs closed full time until the latter half of the year, it has posed significant challenges for both working parents and the economy. 

Now, as we face another year that is clouded with uncertainty, this article will discuss how child care assistance programs would help ensure that the economic growth can fully recover again.

Working Parents and their Employers: Bearing the Brunt of COVID Closures and Restrictions

The labor market impact of the pandemic has greatly affected working families. A joint study conducted in 2020 between McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org sought to understand the impact of the pandemic on mothers in the workplace comparative to fathers. They found that 1 in 3 women in the workplace were considering downsizing or dropping out entirely.

Fathers vs. Mothers considering leaving the workplace to take care of children - from women in the workplace study 2020
Source: Women in the Workplace 2020

Although some child care centers have been lucky enough to reopen during COVID-19, not all parents are in a position to take advantage of these opportunities. As COVID cases continue to surge across different parts of the U.S, parents are either hesitant to send their children back to daycare over safety concerns, are no longer in the financial position to access these programs, or can’t rely on family support e.g grandparents as childminders. 

If no plans for intervention or financial assistance are put into place by both the government and corporations soon, many parents will have to refrain from re-entering the workforce until their children can be safely looked after by trained early childhood educators. 

As the child care industry supports parents and allows them to confidently work knowing their children are being safely looked after, without stable growth in this sector a lot of industries will not be able to get back to where they were before the pandemic. 

After all, the labor market will not be able to function if it’s missing its core age demographic: parents.

What Has Been the True Cost of Child Care During the Pandemic?

Access to affordable and high-quality child care has long been an issue for parents and many facilities have struggled to provide quality care that meets the needs of the parents with limited revenue sources. 

Although the US Congress did pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities (CARES) Act that provided over $3 billion in funding at the start of the pandemic, this was painfully insufficient putting almost half of America’s early learning facilities at risk of permanent closure. 

Many families couldn’t afford the true cost of pre-pandemic quality child care programs that adequately compensated teachers and boosted insufficient funding resources. Now, these child care costs have increased by approximately 47% as a result of needing enhanced health and safety measures, such as PPE and sanitizing equipment, and a reduction in program capacity. 

These costs are too much for early learning providers to shoulder on their own and it is for this reason that improved public and federal funding is a necessity to ensure that child care centers can continue to keep their doors open. 

To save the child care market and to offset the true costs that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on parents and child care centers alike, significant investments are needed on the public, corporate and federal levels to stabilize this industry. 

Reopening the Economy: The Need for Employer-Sponsored Child Care Funding 

While there is much work to be done on behalf of the government to ensure that child care can be accessible to all, the responsibility lies just as much on the shoulders of the employer. 

As we have mentioned previously, child care is not a luxury – it is a necessity. Without it, parents can’t work and the economy won’t return to normal. 

The cost of providing employer-sponsored child care funding as part of an employee benefits program would be much less of a burden than leaving it as the responsibility of the individual parent. The outcome would be considerably better. 

A company that offers child care options, either on-site or to pay for child care at home, will notice a significant improvement in productivity output, motivation levels, and employee satisfaction. When a working parent is given the resources they need to look after their family and to do their job well, they will become a highly engaged employee resulting in great company returns. 

This testimonial from Eileen Benwitt, the Executive Vice President and Chief Talent Officer of Horizon Media, outlines just how much of an impact their partnership with Vivvi to provide child care services has had:

“This was one of the missing, yet essential, benefits that I am thrilled to be able to provide our committed parent employees. The challenges working parents face are plentiful and far-reaching. Horizon’s culture is steeped in employee customization and this is another example of how knowing what matters aids in supporting our valued community. The feedback from our employees has been nothing but positive.”

Employer-sponsored funding that provides employees with affordable access to early learning programs is the step needed to reopen the economy and to solve America’s current child care crisis. 

We Partner With Employers to Support Working Parents

Vivvi partners with employers of all sizes to make high-quality full-time and backup care more accessible and affordable. With flexible offerings and global coverage across campus, in-home, in-office, and virtual care, Vivvi meets the needs of your business and your employees where you are. 

Visit our employer page to learn more about the benefits and ROI our child care offerings have provided to businesses like yours.

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