By Mindy Binderman, Executive Director, GEEARS
Georgia’s November jobs report showed that the unemployment rate hit the lowest percentage in state history, at 3.3%. That’s great news for Georgians but will make the fight to attract and keep good talent even more competitive and even more critical.
If you or a member of your family has ever had to miss work or even turn down advancement opportunities to address a child care challenge, you are not alone. In fact, more than a quarter of Georgia’s parents of children under 5 have experienced a significant workplace disruption because of problems with child care.
As Georgia’s economy depends on attracting a new generation of workers, policymakers and business leaders should consider the role that child care challenges play in creating barriers for individuals to work and seek solutions to enable more Georgians to fully participate in our state’s thriving economy.
Child care challenges, whether a result of systemic barriers to access or the cumulative impact of inconsistent or unreliable care, affect parents’ participation in the workforce and have far-reaching effects for families, employers, and the state’s economy as a whole. An analysis of the impact of child care challenges on Georgia’s parents and the economy by GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students and the Metro Atlanta Chamber paints a sobering picture. Child care challenges in Georgia are leading to significant disruptions to parental workforce participation and to the state’s economy. These short- and long-term disruptions lead to a conservative $1.75 billion in losses in economic activity and an additional $105 million in lost tax revenue.
Policymakers, employers, and institutions of higher education each play an important role in ensuring that Georgia is a top state in which to do business and raise a family. Opportunities for action range from increased state investments in child care scholarships for low income, working families and in training for early educators to paid family leave policies and the creation of family friendly campuses that offer classes and supports at hours and locations that meet the needs of student parents.
The Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, SalesLoft and Mercedes Benz know that creating family friendly policies is the secret to attracting and retaining a strong workforce. See some of their innovative solutions here.
High quality, accessible, affordable child care allows parents to fully engage in the workforce while their children engage in learning experiences that ensure that they are able to learn and thrive. Addressing Georgia’s child care challenges is a win-win for our economy and our children’s future.
To learn more about the opportunities Georgia loses due to child care challenges and read recommendations for change visit www.opportunitieslost.org. We also invite you to watch this video featuring lawmakers and businesses such as Salesforce and Mercedes Benz who are already implementing innovative solutions. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @GEEARS.