Associate Manager, Early Childhood Education
August 23, 2023
“Childcare is not a women’s issue.” As recently highlighted by Debra Derr during an Early Childhood and Business Advisory Council meeting in North Carolina, “this is a family issue that encompasses facets relating to economic development.” Coordinated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and The Bipartisan Policy Center, this Council engages the business community and key early childhood stakeholders to support the expansion of high quality, affordable childcare in communities and states across the country. This joint initiative facilitates conversations to help state and local groups devise an action plan for how to best tackle the most pressing childcare needs facing their communities. We recently expanded the Council to include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Dakota, and Texas. I want to dive into the challenges, opportunities, and next steps from our recent in-person gathering.
Military families, remote communities, and underserved areas are facing all sorts of consequences due to a lack of accessible, affordable, flexible, and quality childcare options. Parents’ limited choices have a ripple effect that resonates not only with them, but also with businesses and the broader community. Here are a few employer-led solutions we heard:
- Partnership with Business: Last year, The NC Chamber created a Childcare Coalition that is working to identify and advance childcare funding structures, policy reforms, and innovations that address the growing workforce demands from the business community. Bringing businesses to the table to help solve childcare challenges lends credibility to the issue, which early childhood education advocates can leverage to accelerate change.
- Collaborative Approach: In a large state like Alaska, business leaders acting as intermediaries between different groups is critical to capitalizing on opportunities. Given the ongoing workforce shortage and employers of all sizes experiencing a lack of resources to support their employee’s childcare needs, the power of collective action is pivotal for making transformative change.
- Local Needs: Local leaders are figuring out what fits each community best. Successful solutions can only be reached by jointly addressing gaps between affordability, access, flexibility, and quality that are tailored to each locale.
Why It Matters:
State and local chambers of commerce are uniquely positioned to offer urgently needed resources and support to employers and early childhood education advocates while also acting as powerful connectors among community leaders interested in advancing early childhood education policy. Through this joint initiative, we can directly engage and support the expansion of accessible, affordable, flexible, and high-quality childcare in communities and states in ways that will benefit working parents, providers, and employers.
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 the business community to make this investment. The ability to recruit and retain top talent is more important than ever, and childcare is key to solving this two-generation workforce challenge.
This meeting showcased the great progress already made and the robust momentum toward continued transformative action. Even as challenges persist, the business community and early childhood education stakeholders are collaborating to find localized solutions to help their communities. As we reflect on what we learned, we know the path forward involves a commitment to collaboration, an understanding of local needs, and a proactive approach to business engagement. Whether it’s addressing personnel shortages on military bases, supporting rural communities, or bolstering workforce participation, every effort counts.
- The U.S. Chamber Foundation has created this one-pager, specifically designed for those most affected by the CHIPS childcare requirement.
- Read our comprehensive reports on Untapped Potential: Economic Impact of Childcare Breakdowns on U.S. States.
- Explore the Employer Roadmap: Childcare Solutions for Working Parents