Taking Action on Childcare

January 30, 2020

As a business leader, you’ve noticed it is becoming more and more difficult to hire and retain qualified workers. You’ve likely even considered the longer-term scenarios – will it be even more challenging to secure a reliable and productive workforce 5 or 10 or even 20 years from now?  

You may have even spent some time – or considerable time: 

  • Contemplating how to successfully hire and retain workers that are growing younger by the day.  
  • Getting to the bottom of how the millennial generation (those born between 1981 and 1996) is different from Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers you’ve employed in the past.  
  • Figuring out how to attract them to your business, tap into their strengths, and offer the work environment, culture, and values to ensure they will grow and thrive in your company. 

If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. 

What this generational shift in our workforce is teaching us is that when it comes to recruiting and retaining a reliable and productive workforce, early childhood education and childcare are now solidly part of the conversation.    

Millennials comprise the population born between 1981 and 1996. An estimated 17 million millennial women are mothers, and, since 2017, millennials have comprised the largest segment of the American workforce, compared to other generations. Although millennial women have made great strides in educational attainment and career progress, they are still struggling to balance work and family life, much like women from previous generations.

In a survey of millennial mothers, 74% reported that society does not do a good job of understanding and supporting mothers. This same survey found that 50% of the sample have changed their work status due to becoming a mother. Respondents most commonly cited onsite childcare facilities or subsidies and longer paid maternity leave as ways employers could support them.

Taking Action 

Once we acknowledge that childcare is a wise investment in not only today’s workforce but a key to recruiting and retaining top talent in today’s competitive talent marketplace, the next step is to do something about it.  
 
Every employer in this country, whether they realize it or not, are surrounded by experts in the early childhood education field and those experts are ready to engage in partnerships to support employers as they assess and respond to the childcare needs of their workforce. 

In 47 states, Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agencies focus on increasing access to high-quality, affordable childcare by serving as a resource hub for families, childcare professionals, and communities. Their nationwide infrastructure coupled with touch points at the local, state, and national levels, position them to be a valuable partner and guide for businesses ready to take action on childcare.  

The origin of the CCR&R system stemmed from a growing demand in the 1960s and 1970s for working parents to find safe and reliable childcare, caused by a massive influx of women entering the workforce. These social and political forces prompted the formalization of a nationwide CCR&R system that addressed three foundational needs:  

  • Families’ need to access consumer education and childcare referrals; 
  • Communities’ need to build supply and improve the quality of childcare; and 
  • Employers’ need for a childcare system that would support a productive workforce 

From their inception, effective CCR&R services were based on building and sustaining high-quality, affordable childcare by supporting an integrated three-fold focus on a defined set of core services for families, childcare professionals, and communities and businesses in different, yet holistic and complimentary ways. 
 
While not all CCR&Rs are exactly alike, they are designed intentionally to respond to the unique needs of their states and communities. Further, they are fundamentally nimble – poised to spot trends and take action quickly.  
 
The next installment of this blog series details the features of the nationwide CCR&R system. 

Visit www.childcareaware.org or call 800-424-2246 to find CCR&Rs in your state.