The Status of Childcare

The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce hosted an Eggs and Issues on Childcare and its importance to our local economy and business community.

 

Affordable and safe childcare is an essential component to creating a thriving community. Childcare in our community and across the nation is and has been facing significant challenges, and the viability of our childcare centers is being pushed to the limit. Our team of expert panelists discussed the challenges our local childcare centers are facing and what can be done to help; panelists included:

 

Jenn Perney; Family Enrichment Network

Laura Gates; YWCA Binghamton

Deb Fitzgerald; Cub Care

Kelly Tobin; YWCA Cortland

Kristin Beylo; Family Violence Prevention Council

 

The problems childcare centers are facing are not unsimilar from what a typical small business in our area faces, increased cost, employer mandates, and limited support from the state. Childcare needs to be thought of as a business community issue because of its significant economic development and workforce development implications.

 

One of the more salient points leaders must grapple with is that childcare centers faced a difficult situation before COVID and now many will likely have to fold. If it were not for large scale donations, the childcare centers would not be viable. Childcare centers and nonprofits across the board had had difficulty raising funds.

 

This chart clearly explains why childcare centers are facing an uphill battle:

 

 

According to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation businesses are currently feeling the childcare issue in these ways:

      • 79% of employers have shifted a significant part of the workforce to remote work
      • 40% of employers have offered additional childcare accommodations, assistance, or benefits due to COVID-19
      • 40% of employers are concerned that some of their employees will not fully return to work
      • 1/4 of employers are concerned that some employees will leave the workforce entirely

 

Similarly, according the US Chamber Foundation, families are facing difficult childcare challenges in these ways:

      • Nearly half of working parents are now working remotely. Flexible working hours and the ability to work remotely were identified as the most important employer-provided benefits for working parents.
      • 75% of working parents currently have children staying at home with a parent during work hours
      • Two-thirds of parents have changed their childcare arrangement due to COVID-19
      • 60% of parents will need to change their current childcare arrangement within the next year
      • 22% of parents are unsure whether they will return to their pre-COVID-19 working situation

 

The potential negative economic impact of solving the problem the wrong way or not solving the problem at all will be long lasting. Businesses are naturally creative and adaptive, that creativity needs to be involved when looking for solutions whether that is in the form of tax credits, vouchers, or creating a supportive rather than a punitive regulatory structure.

 

Childcare centers are one type of struggling small business in our community whose viability impacts all businesses in our community. Businesses have a real motivation for working parents to have the childcare they need to come to work, have peace of mind, and contribute to their workplace. Our commitment to our children, is how committed we are to the success our community now and for generations to come.

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