In the face of an increasingly competitive global economy, building a highly skilled workforce is more important than ever. American business depends on a strong workforce, now and in the future, to compete and succeed globally. The ability to recruit and retain top talent is of paramount importance.  Our education system is falling short in preparing students to succeed. Business leaders understand the importance of a well-educated workforce to support a strong economy. What is less discussed is the underestimated phase of education and human development: early childhood education, years 0-8.

Childcare is key to solving this two-generation workforce challenge.

For American business, advancing high-quality childcare is a winning proposition and a wise investment in America's future. Our goal is to educate and encourage business to make this wise investment.

Essential Care for Essential Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a challenge that was becoming increasingly more difficult even before the public health crisis—finding affordable, quality childcare for working parents throughout the country. Since the beginning of the pandemic, hundreds of employers have reached out to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation seeking solutions to support working parents in essentials roles.

This executive briefing is a roadmap for senior leaders to understand what options are available to address childcare needs for frontline working parents, primarily working shifts during non-traditional hours. It also includes information about what to expect on the journey and how to put strategies into action for their business.

Special thanks to Desklight Learning and Aspen Labs for their support in designing and producing this briefing. 

Economic Impact of Childcare Breakdowns

The Untapped Potential economic impact reports examine the impact of childcare issues on working parents, business, and the state economies in Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. These four states learned that they each lose an average of $1 billion annually due to breakdowns in childcare that result in working parents voluntarily leaving the workforce and postponing continuing educational opportunities. The Untapped Potential reports explore each state’s childcare challenges, how business and policy makers can be a part of solving them, and the voices behind the numbers – stories of working parents in each state struggling to get the care they need. 

Read the Reports

COVID-19 Impact on Childcare

The COVID-19 public health crisis has significantly impacted the lives of working parents trying to balance childcare and work, childcare providers trying to stay open or re-open, and employers trying to determine how and when their working parents can return to work.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation conducted a series of surveys from June to November 2020, to see how the pandemic's impact on childcare has evolved, understand the impact of COVID-19 on childcare observed over time, and how a lack of childcare affects our economy and ability to recover. The research examined the difficulties the COVID-19 pandemic has created in relation to childcare, and the hard choices parents, employers, and policymakers have had to make. 

Untapped Potential Reports

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation partnered with the business communities in IdahoIowaMississippi, and Pennsylvania and their early education partners to understand just how much breakdowns in childcare cost each state. This includes:

  • Identifies how much breakdowns in childcare cost each of the four states studied: Iowa, Idaho, Mississippi, Pennsylvania. 
  • Provides an economic analysis on how the total Untapped Potential numbers add up. 
  • Explores the causes of childcare challenges as well as the motivations behind why parents select various childcare providers.
  • Shares stories from working parents to highlight the unique challenges each state faces in solving its childcare crisis.

Business Case for High-Quality Childcare

The U.S. is facing a gap between the skills employers are looking for and those produced by the education system. The foundation for skill development is laid in the earliest years, and this infographic shows the value of investing in high-quality early education and care.

Working Parents Look to Employers for Reform

The business community has a unique opportunity to lead the way in implementing family policies that support their employees and make economic sense for the business' bottom line. We surveyed working parents to determine the best path forward.