Inadequate child care costs PA 2.5 billion annually: study

For Pennsylvania, inadequate child care imposes substantial and long-lasting consequences; its effects are felt by parents, businesses, and the Commonwealth’s taxpayers. So says a new report issued by the PA Early Learning Investment Commission.

Talk to most working parents of an infant or toddler, and you’re likely to hear how difficult it is to find child care that’s accessible, affordable and truly beneficial to their child’s development during one of the most crucial periods of life. Talk to their bosses, and you’re likely to hear about a productivity and performance impact that will only worsen as gaps in Pennsylvania’s child care system persist.

The top-line findings of a new study examining the economic impacts of gaps in Pennsylvania’s child care system on working parents, employers, and taxpayers describe the consequences. The verdict: an annual economic cost of $2.5 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.Productivity challenges affect both employers and employees:

• 60 percent of Pennsylvania parents facing child care struggles report leaving work early.
• Almost half report being distracted at or missing full days of work.
• 90 percent of parents said problems with child care hurt their efforts or time commitment at work.

The predictable impact: 1 in 7 say they’ve been reprimanded and 10 percent have been fired. Meanwhile, productivity problems cause Pennsylvania employers to lose $600 million annually due to child care challenges faced by their workforce.The stakes are enormously high for the vast majority of Pennsylvania families, who depend on parents’ employment. The stakes are high as well for infants and toddlers, who depend on nurturing, stimulating environments for healthy brain development during the first three years of life. Action and innovation now will improve life outcomes for millions of children today and strengthen the Pennsylvania workforce and economy both now and in the years to come.