The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce is leading the charge to help bring solutions to the childcare crises that is affecting our community and workforce. The Chamber has brought employers, parents, and childcare facilities together to help work collaboratively on how to solve this issue. At our first meeting, relevant funders and stakeholders discussed challenges, desired outcomes, potential solutions, and necessary resources. Future meetings are already scheduled to take place.
A key concern of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce is that the businesses in our community have access to a well-trained and accessible workforce. With over 4,000 open jobs, companies are increasingly looking for way to hire and retain qualified employees. Consistently one of the top workforce barriers found by employers is childcare. This childcare issue effects the local businesses, families, and childcare providers. By collaboratively working with all three stakeholders in the Childcare Workgroup, we believe a there are common solutions that can help meet the diversity of stakeholder needs.
Many childcare facilities in the Binghamton region are struggling under burdensome mandates, increasing minimum wage, staff turnover, wage compression and a stagnant childcare subsidy. These factors have resulted in the closure of several childcare facilities. If these problems are not adequately addressed, more facilities will begin to close their doors, which will decrease the options parents have in Broome County.
A key issue of this crises is that when minimum wage is increased, the cost of operating a childcare facility increases. This increase in cost is then passed on to families that cannot afford to pay for increased childcare expenses. This causes many people to leave the workforce to avoid having to pay these high childcare costs. Also, there have not been subsequent increases for the Childcare subsidy to match the minimum wage increase. This causes childcare facilities that accept children based on the subsidy to be at an economic disadvantage. These problems are among those that cause childcare facilities to not be viable.
There is an expectation by many that employers should be ones responsible to solve the issues surrounding childcare. While businesses can and should play an important role, their intervention is halted because their expertise is not in childcare. Many of our local businesses build bridges, forklifts, and airplane parts. They must rely on the expertise of community partners on how to run a childcare center.
One solution the Chamber is beginning to work on is a Childcare Tax credit. Credits have been given to employers for projects involving onsite childcare facilities. The problem with this model is that many employers are simply not in the business of childcare. The current language in the budget suggests childcare providers with childcare centers as part of the business model can received a 25% – 35% tax credit based on the type of childcare expenses. We would like this to be extended to include all childcare contributions made by an employer, not just for employers with a childcare facility. This will encourage businesses to voluntarily give employees a childcare stipend. This credit can serve a pro-family economic development tool.
This tax credit has the potential to:
- Increase workforce participation
- Decrease the needed use of a subsidy
- Create healthier more viable childcare facilities
- Empower parents to make the best choices professionally and for their children
Any input or questions about this initiative can be directed toward Kyle Davis the Chamber’s Government Relations and Public Policy Specialist. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org