In the bustling world of business, we often forget the unsung hero that keeps the engine running smoothly – childcare. Childcare is the foundation that nurtures a healthy, thriving economy while supporting families’ economic stability. We all know that businesses can’t do their thing without the dedication of their employees. But you know what? Parents and caregivers need a little help too! They can only be reliable, hardworking employees if they have access to affordable, top-notch childcare while they’re on the clock. You’d be surprised how many working parents feel pressure and stress due to childcare issues, impacting both families and our wallets. So, let’s dive into why childcare matters so much for businesses, families, and our community in simple, everyday terms.
The Real Deal: The Impact of Childcare Challenges
The struggle is real for working parents when it comes to childcare. A staggering 86% of working parents are negatively impacted at work due to issues with childcare. When parents don’t have solid childcare options, it’s like a wild rollercoaster for businesses too. More sick days, less productivity, and frustrated employees not bringing their full potential to work.
Empowering Working Mothers in Wisconsin
Data shows that 70.2% of Wisconsin’s infants have mothers in the workforce, a percentage nearly 10% higher than the national average. This statistic emphasizes the critical role played by working mothers in our economy. However, the accessibility and affordability of childcare significantly impacts workforce participation, particularly for these mothers. By ensuring accessible childcare, we can empower working mothers to contribute fully to the workforce and drive economic growth.
The Numbers Don’t Lie: Childcare Crisis Hits Hard
Even before the pandemic, Wisconsin’s economy took a $1.9 billion hit annually due to the childcare crisis. And that’s not all! The whole country felt the burn, with a staggering $122 billion disappearing from our wallets each year because of childcare challenges. https://www.strongnation.org/articles/2038-122-billion-the-growing-annual-cost-of-the-infant-toddler-child-care-crisis
Wisconsin State Budget Update
In June of 2023, members of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) voted to finalize JFC’s state budget without including any funding to continue the Child Care Counts Program beyond early 2024 https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-republicans-child-care-counts-subsidy-program. The state budget did pass both the house and senate and Governor Evers signed the state budget into law in early July.
The impact of this will be a ripple effect across the state and we can anticipate negative consequences for childcare providers, childcare programs, families with young children, employers, and communities across Wisconsin. Locally, we are already seeing childcare providers raising rates, centers closing their doors for good, and Chippewa Valley families being left in the lurch when it comes to childcare https://www.postcrescent.com/story/money/2022/06/14/wisconsin-families-pinched-daycare-early-education-costs-rise/9898077002/
Taking the Reins: Businesses as Change Makers
As business leaders and area employers, you hold a unique position of influence within our community. Your voice carries weight, and when you advocate for a cause, people listen! Childcare matters, and together, we can make a real difference by addressing this vital issue. Let’s team up and create some momentum to foster a thriving community.
Step One: Speaking Up for Change
Your business has the power to advocate for positive policy changes. Reach out to local and statewide lawmakers and emphasize the importance of childcare support for families and businesses alike. By putting affordable childcare at the forefront of the discussion, we can pave the way for a brighter future for all. Visit www.RaisingWisconsin.org for more information and resources on how to get involved.
Step Two: Join In the Movement!
The United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley received a Dream Up! grant from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and Project Growth in 2023. Through a collaborative community approach, teams of community stakeholders are working to evaluate, plan, sustain and expand existing childcare, and support new childcare programs. Learn more and find out how your business can get involved here: https://www.uwgcv.org/child-care
Make a Donation to Western Dairyland and Childcare Partnership to help support their Childcare Resource and Referral Program. https://www.childcarepartnership.org/donate.phtml
Grant funding is available through the Quest Grant for folks interested in joining the childcare field. CVTC does have scholarships available for Early Childhood Education Professionals, more information available here: https://www.cvtc.edu/academics/programs/early-childhood-education/wisconsin-registry-credentials
Step Three: Family-Friendly Vibes
Offer family-friendly policies at work. Happy parents mean a happy workforce – win-win! The Eau Claire Chamber does a great job promoting a family-friendly workplace and other companies, like HPE in Chippewa have great parental leave: https://careers.hpe.com/us/en/benefits-wellness.
Step Four: Rally the Troops
Spread the word! Get everyone on board to recognize that affordable childcare means a brighter future for all of us. Join the www.RaisingWisconsin.org movement and/or connect with the Eau Claire Chamber to learn more about what you can do in our community.
In closing, childcare is the unifying thread that weaves together businesses, families, and our entire community, creating a harmonious ecosystem. Your organizations possess the power to enact real change, shaping a world where businesses flourish, families thrive, and our community radiates with boundless possibilities. By joining forces, we can pave the way for sustained economic growth and lay the groundwork for a brighter tomorrow.