North Carolina Faces Multi-Billion Dollar Loss Annually as a Result of Inadequate Child Care Availability

A recent study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation estimates that inadequate child care is costing North Carolina approximately $5.65 billion annually.

The report, in collaboration with the N.C. Chamber Foundation and NC Child, highlights the negative impact of limited child care access on the state’s economy. Employers lose $4.29 billion every year due to job disruptions and turnover related to child care issues, leading to an additional loss of $1.36 billion in tax revenue for the state.

Meredith Archie, president of the NC Chamber Foundation, emphasized the critical need for affordable and quality child care during a news conference held on Wednesday.

According to a representative survey involving 517 parents with children under 6 years old, 25% of parents have recently experienced work disruptions due to child care challenges, with 35% of them opting to exit the workforce.

Moreover, 15% of surveyed parents expressed their intention to leave their jobs within the next year, with 37% citing inadequate child care as a primary reason for their decision.

Despite North Carolina being ranked the top state for business consecutively by CNBC, the tight labor market remains a concern, as highlighted by Archie’s remarks.

Danielle Stilwell, HR development and recruitment manager at Columbia Forest Products, shared insights from her experience with employee engagement and productivity concerning unmet child care needs.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s report, part of the “Untapped Potential” series, evaluates the economic repercussions of insufficient child care at the state level.

Aaron Merchen, the senior director of policy and programs in early childhood education for the U.S. Chamber Foundation, compared the child care challenge to quicksand, emphasizing the need for collaborative solutions among employers, policymakers, providers, and parents in North Carolina.

As federal funds supporting the state’s child care industry are set to expire soon, advocacy groups are urging state intervention to extend the financial support during the legislative session to prevent severe repercussions.

The survey indicated that the majority of child care programs anticipate raising fees as a means to sustain their operations after the funds are depleted, impacting the decisions of parents when selecting child care options.

Erica Palmer Smith, executive director of NC Child, highlighted the financial burden on families with multiple children in child care programs, emphasizing the necessity for state-level interventions to support working parents.

While the report does not offer specific policy recommendations, plans to revamp the delivery and funding of child care are underway by the state chamber and its foundation, with a focus on long-term solutions involving public and private sector initiatives.

Parental workforce participation is a crucial aspect of child care, but it also plays a significant role in children’s learning and overall well-being, as noted by Palmer Smith.

Investing in early learning opportunities for children under five years old has long-term benefits, including improved academic performance, social skills, and higher prospects for success in education and future employment.

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