New Mexico’s working parents know how difficult it is to find child care that’s accessible, affordable, and high-quality. This problem is particularly acute for parents of very young children, as infant and toddler care is typically the least available and most expensive. Further, children under age three are experiencing one of the most crucial periods of brain development. New Mexico employers know the economic impact of these child care challenges, that will only worsen as the child care crisis continues.
Our national study examining the economic impacts of the nation’s infant-toddler child care crisis on working parents, employers, and taxpayers describes the consequences: an annual cost of $57 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue. An overwhelming 86 percent of primary caregivers of infants and toddlers said problems with child care hurt their efforts or time commitment at work. In New Mexico specifically, the lack of reliable child care for working parents of young children may result in $570 million in annual costs to the state’s economy.
The business leaders of ReadyNation in New Mexico are urging lawmakers to protect and expand programs that enhance the affordability, availability, and quality of child care – and to foster continuing innovations at the state and local level that address this problem for parents and employers. In particular, given the COVID-19 crisis, the state legislature needs to support the child care system now, so as New Mexicans go back to work, child care is available, affordable, and high quality.
The stakes are enormously high for the many New Mexico families, who depend on parents’ employment, as well as for children, who depend on nurturing, stimulating environments for healthy brain development during the first three years of life. Action and innovation now will improve life outcomes for New Mexico children today and strengthen the New Mexico workforce and economy both now and in the years to come.