“Workforce of Today, Workforce of Tomorrow: The Business Case for High-Quality Childcare,” a new report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce makes the case for high-quality childcare through a two-generation strategy that supports current employees while laying crucial groundwork for tomorrow’s workforce.
The report cites challenges currently faced by business in finding qualified employees and the shortcomings of the K-12 education system in preparing students for the 21st century workplace.
“One root of this problem is that we’ve underestimated the importance of the earliest years of life. For most of history, the essential early foundation for all subsequent learning and development was laid largely in the home. But today, an unprecedented number of American mothers are in the workforce, and millions of young children are in paid childcare for a substantial portion of their early years. And while childcare is a necessary support for working parents, it also has a critical impact on children during the most consequential phase of human development.”
“Extraordinary development occurs from birth to age 5, forming the bedrock for lifelong health, intellectual ability, emotional well-being, and social functioning. A broad set of socially and economically valuable skills start developing in children’s very first months, build over time, and are critical determinants of academic and economic success. “
The report also points out that quality child care can help close the achievement gap between children from upper- and middle-income families and those from lower-income families. It also points out that high-quality child care is often hard to come by for these families, due to cost and other factors.
The report urges business leaders to get involved by doing everything from helping others in the field understand the economic impact of high-quality child care to donating to child-care facilities in low-income neighborhoods and providing their employees with a child-care benefits program or on-site child care. It also lists several successful business initiatives around the country to support high-quality child care.