|Business and Families Call for Greater Child Care Investments
“We have a hard time hiring and keeping workers because of the lack of child care flexibility,” said Blythe Pruitt of Advanced Industrial Solutions (AIS), a skilled trade labor contracting company with employee shifts in off-site locations.
“The biggest child care challenge we have is the lack of early drop off and late pick up. Our workers start early and often have an hour drive to their job site. Sometimes their jobs run late or they hit traffic coming home.”
AIS was one of the dozens of PA businesses that completed an employer survey by Children First and the PA Chamber of Business and Industry. The findings of the survey were released today at an event co-hosted by the York County Economic Alliance; local industry reps, child care providers, and state lawmakers were also at the table.
Getting Back to Business: The Employer’s Case for Non-Traditional Hour Child Care, Children First’s latest report for the Start Strong Campaign, compiles the survey results and finds that industries that operate outside the traditional workday – such as restaurants, healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment, and first responders – have a hard time hiring and retaining employees because of the lack of child care. Non-traditional hours are Saturday, Sunday, or between the hours of 6 PM and 6 AM.
Ruben Warren, Vice President and General Manager of Hollywood Casino York, knows his industry relies on employees who work after 5 PM and on weekends. He is working with the community to find local child care providers who will offer non-traditional hour care. “We plan to work with [providers] to see if there is a reasonable partnership so we’re able to provide a benefit for our employees. But we need some help.”
Getting Back to Business documents how pervasive this problem is. Rural, urban, and suburban families and businesses are paying a high financial toll because of the lack of non-traditional hour care. Families must scramble to find the care they need, leave their jobs, or refuse job offers. The report finds that:
- One in three families with young kids in PA needs care on weekends or evenings.
- Only one in four child care programs offers after-hour care
- Nine out of ten employers who require non-traditional hours reported child care being a barrier for their employees, especially women.
To consistently support both employees and employers, Pennsylvania needs innovative policies to boost non-traditional hour child care programs across the Commonwealth, we need to:
- Increase supports for child care providers, such as grants, mentoring, technical assistance, professional networks, and shared services to incentivize non-traditional hour child care providers.
- Reduce unnecessary regulations for off-hour care when children are not engaged in active learning.
- Increase the add-on payments for programs participating in the child care subsidy system.
The Pennsylvania economy is slowly recovering from the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic. Parents and caretakers continue to struggle to access affordable and high-quality child care. Now is the time for government and businesses to work together to find solutions to the child care crisis.