Taxpayers lose $7 billion in tax revenue. Businesses lose $13 billion as their productivity drops because of distracted or absent employees, along with extra costs connected to hiring and training. Parents pay the highest price, losing $37 billion due to diminished earnings, worse career prospects, and the added expense of finding alternative child care and work arrangements.
As staggering as this economic toll is, the immeasurable future cost that will be paid by the next generation is just as distressing.
Today’s infants and toddlers may face the most severe penalties at the hands of the crisis. That’s due to the fact that kids aged zero to three are in the midst of an irreplaceable time of neurological development. High-quality supports during this period can have heightened effects. But, so can a lack of those supports.
Without them, kids are more likely to endure cognitive and social-emotional deficits—deficits that can persist into adulthood. That’s why the child care crisis impacts business today and tomorrow. Coupled with the fact that child care tends to be most expensive for young children, it’s also easy to see why this burden falls disproportionately on infants and toddlers.
This crisis has become so pressing that business leaders are taking direct action. Recently, over 50 senior business leaders from across the country wrote a letter asking Congress to continue its recent trend of strong Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding. This funding helps lower-income parents afford child care while holding jobs that lead to long term family self-sufficiency.
In 2018, Congress nearly doubled federal funding for CCDBG, a historic and encouraging investment. I hope Congress will sustain the commitment to prioritizing CCDBG funding it has demonstrated in the last two years, while also exploring new, innovative methods of enhancing child care options across the country.
Here in Georgia, CCDBG funding has allowed us to increase payment rates for higher-quality providers, helping us retain good providers as well as increasing the number of providers. In addition, the state also used CCDBG funds to reduce copays for child care, meaning that more working families are able to afford quality reliable child care. Georgia is also investing in professional development opportunities for providers as another way to boost quality. Improvements like these can be difference-makers for the parents and children.
For the sake of working families in communities around Georgia and beyond, I urge Congress to fight the infant-and-toddler child care crisis by continuing to invest in the Child Care Development Block Grant.
Ann Cramer is a Senior Consultant, Coxe Curry and Associates, former Director for IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs for the Americas, and a member of ReadyNation.