NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A new report is giving more insight into how access to child care in Tennessee, or a lack thereof, is impacting families and businesses.
Tennesseans for Quality Early Education (TQEE) released its survey findings in a report called “Workforce of Today and Tomorrow: The Economics of Tennessee’s Child Care Crisis.” They learned that in Davidson County, $275.4 million is lost in earnings and revenue on an annual basis. Statewide, it amounts to $2.6 billion.
“We surveyed over 2,000 working parents of children under the age of six across the state and we did an oversampling in Davidson County,” said TQEE CEO Blair Taylor. “What’s causing the problems? They said there are three major things.”
She said in Davidson County, 75% of parents cited access as an issue, 51% cited affordability, and 41% cited challenges with finding quality child care where they felt good with leaving their children.
“I don’t think it was particularly surprising to us. This really corroborates what we have heard anecdotally for years,” said Taylor. “We know increasingly, though, have been hearing a lot from employers over the past several years from their perspective, what they’re seeing and the challenges of how childcare problems are affecting workforce productivity, workforce participation, hiring, retention of employees and the like.”
They posed this question to survey respondents: “Over the last six months as a result of childcare problems, did you experience any employment disruptions?”
Blair said that in Davidson County, 60% of working parents reported employment disruptions, many reported quitting, being fired, turning down a job offer or promotion as a result of childcare, and 26% of working parents said they stopped seeking employment altogether, because of childcare problems in the last six months.
“The average cost of childcare in Tennessee is more than in-state college tuition,” explained Taylor. “Think about that. The affordability is a major issue.”
She said child care employers are facing challenges of their own as well.
“The providers, who are heroes in our book, but as the providers try to keep cost down and more affordable for families, that puts downward pressure on childcare worker wages, and so it makes it much more difficult for providers themselves to earn a living, and it makes it difficult to attract and retain employees,” said Taylor.
She said businesses and the government need to step up to solve this crisis.
“We hope to clarify through this report, that getting it right would benefit parents and their pocketbooks, who are really candidly suffering the most through lost earnings,” said Taylor. “Businesses have an opportunity to benefit through their increased productivity and increased revenues as a result of that. And then our policymakers in our government and taxpayers have an opportunity to benefit as well. And so we think it’s a win win win with a triple bottom line if we do better, make smarter, better investments in early learning and care.”
Read full report HERE.