The JUST Report: Why Child Care Is a Business Imperative

Jay Owen Community Development Solutions, SRI/ESG News, Transforming Finance


 

Why Childcare is a Business Imperative  

(Hill Street Studios – Getty Images)

We are in a critical moment for considering what it means to be a working parent, especially a working mom, in this country.

In a new survey with our partner the Harris Poll, we found that over the past year and a half of the pandemic, the majority of respondents have become painfully aware of the high cost of child care. Of those respondents, 41% said they or someone they know missed work to care for their kids, and 36% said they or someone they know left their job or switched to part-time work for the same reason.

Majorities agreed that companies have a responsibility to take care of the parents in their workforces through all nine benefits mentioned, including part-time or job-sharing opportunities (69%), flexible work schedules (68%), and discounted or subsidized caregiving like after-school care (58%).

There was also strong agreement on the need for public support, with a massive 78% in favor of a federal 12-week paid leave policy that employees could use to take care of not just children, but also a sick spouse or parent. This is interesting, given Congress yesterday marked up legislation supporting universal paid family leave.

Business leaders continue to grapple with this. Some have called for passing federal leave programs, including engaging in the dialogue in Congress about federal paid family leave policies. Leaders of companies like EtsyGapChobani, and Patagonia met recently with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss child care, and a separate coalition of 300 companies – including Danone North AmericaLevi Strauss & Co.Pinterest, and Salesforce –has come out in support of passing paid leave in the spending bill.

Julie Kashen of the Century Foundation is a major proponent of passing both child care and paid leave policies, and in an interview with JUST pointed to 2019 research showing that $57 billion in earnings, productivity, and revenue is lost each year due to a lack of child care guarantees. “I think that became even more evident, and gave employers more of a stake in this, after the pandemic,” she said.