As founder and CEO of a technology company in Kentucky, I have long invested in the well-being of my employees and my hometown. My community, like many others across America, is filled with working parents tasked with juggling their personal and professional lives. It’s a great challenge that I, too, must navigate.
Finding the balance between family and work has been a top-of-mind concern for me as a father of two young children. Many of my company’s employees, and working parents in our workforce training programs, share my concern. Bringing parents into the workforce is not only socially conscious— it’s also an economic imperative.
The child care industry plays a crucial role in maintaining our economy’s stability, and, in these times of uncertainty, stability is something we desperately need.
The COVID-19 health emergency has affected our economy in unprecedented ways. Every sector, including the tech industry, has been compromised in some capacity. The child care industry is no different. In fact, they carry a unique burden during this pandemic. Stay-at-home orders across the country have led to a massive increase in teleworking and unemployment filings. Now that more parents are at home with their children, child care providers’ revenue is declining. Local authorities may also require them to stay open, only adding to their financial peril.
At the same time, child care providers play a crucial role in sustaining our economy today and in its recovery. They continue to furnish needed services for working families on the front lines of the pandemic. Health care professionals, first responders, public transportation operators, grocery store workers, delivery personnel, and truck and freight operators remain in desperate need of child care. Congress has provided some assistance, but it’s not enough to support essential workers and allow parents to return to work.
To stay in business throughout the duration of the health crisis, child care providers will need access to financial resources to stabilize their workforce. While I applaud Congress for being mindful of the current needs of child care providers in the CARES Act relief, it’s imperative that further economic relief includes considerations for the child care industry. Without additional support, child care availability will continue to diminish, adding stress on working families at the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will be a continued problem as social distancing and stay-at-home orders are lifted and people start getting back to work. I know first hand how parents struggle to find quality child care while they are at work. This includes families who are going back to school or getting re-trained for new jobs, which we see every day in Interapt’s workforce training programs.
The tumultuous impact of COVID-19 comes at a particularly difficult time for the child care industry. Our nation already found itself in the middle of a significant infant-and-toddler child care crisis. The findings of a 2019 ReadyNation report on the economic impact of that crisis are sobering: 86 percent of primary caregivers of infants and toddlers experience problems with child care that hurt their efforts or time commitment at work; and, in turn, our nation bears a total economic cost of $57 billion in lost earnings, productivity and revenue each year.
Our child care sector, already fragile and in need of expansion, now stands to become even weaker at the very time it’s needed the most.
Over the course of my career, I’ve directly seen the interconnection between the availability of child care and economic stability and prosperity. Supporting child care providers during the COVID-19 health pandemic will help our economy recover, and set us up for future growth.
I urge Congress to come together and work in a bipartisan fashion to stabilize the child care sector—for our kids, for our parents, and for our economic recovery. Sustaining child care providers will help working parents and business communities thrive, and our nation’s youth will get the tools they need to succeed in education, work, and life.
—— Ankur Gopal is the Founder and CEO of Interapt LLC. He is a ReadyNation member and resides in Louisville, Kentucky.