Any economic emergency that costs Illinois more than $2 billion a year demands attention from policymakers and the public – and the lack of accessible, affordable child care is that crisis
A new report from ReadyNation Illinois details the considerable effects of this crisis: Each year, our state’s working parents lose about $1.6 billion due to insufficient child care options. These costs primarily relate to foregone earnings and the search for alternative work and child care arrangements, the report states. Employee absenteeism, lowered productivity and rehiring challenges fuel a nearly $560 million blow to Illinois employers. Lost tax revenues total another $294 million hit for taxpayers, in general.
“The child care crisis is a significant drain on our economy – but we know how to fix it, and should do so,” says ReadyNation member Jessica Linder Gallo, President & CEO of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The new report isolates Illinois’ projected portion of the total, $57 billion annual price tag associated with the child care crisis felt across the country, as detailed in another ReadyNation report last year. And these costs reflect only the effects of insufficient care for infants and toddlers; the impact relating to care for children aged 5 and up would boost these figures even more. So, too, would adding the costs of foregone state-specific tax revenues to those of the federal revenues covered in these reports.
Barriers to child care are, too often, barriers to working parents’ full and productive employment. Joni Duncan, Senior Vice President, and Chief Human Resources Officer at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
The new Illinois report notes that a number of significant, recent policy advances have begun to put Illinois’ Child Care Assistance Program on better footing. These follow several years of devastating eligibility cuts that displaced tens of thousands of children and destabilized life for their families and their parents’ employers.
But more is needed to further shore-up child care opportunities for the working families who need them, the report stresses – and thus, our economy that depends upon a stable, well-supported workforce.
Suggested steps include strengthening the pipeline for teacher training, bolstering these professionals’ consistently low pay, greatly expanding infant/toddler care capacity, and extending efforts at increasing caregivers’ capacity for meeting kids’ social-emotional needs.