The hidden costs of child care: Lack of accessibility, affordability costs Indiana billions

(file photo courtesy Pixabay)
Erin Walden
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There are nearly 400,000 working parents with children under the age of 5 in the Hoosier State.

A study released late last year revealed that inadequate early childhood education costs Indiana companies, taxpayers and the economy big time. Conducted by Early Learning Indiana, a nonprofit dedicated to early childhood education, and the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, the study takes a deep dive into early childhood education and child care by looking at long-term costs and possible solutions to a statewide problem.

The three biggest issues the study found were:

  1. lack of child care (roughly 20 openings at licensed child care facilities per 100 children under the age of 6 in 2015)
  2. cost of child care
  3. incompatibility of standard child care hours offered and the shifts parents have to work

“We’ve heard stories over and over again in manufacturing where young people who may have to work second or third [shift], they have a child because they’re younger and childbearing age, and then they can’t find child care at night, can’t find child care in the evenings, so they’ve left the workforce and that hurts business,” said Jeff Harris, director of Public Affairs for Early Learning Indiana.

According to the study, Indiana employers lose $1.8 billion each year due to child care-related absenteeism and turnover. The study found that the average employee misses 13.3 days of work a year due to child care issues, which results in companies either paying another employee overtime, paying a temporary worker or suffering reductions in productivity. Furthermore, 2.8 percent of working parents resign to tend to their children, which means the employer must use resources to find, hire and train a replacement.

When it comes to the economy, $1.1 billion is lost each year. That number is calculated using absenteeism and turnover. The loss of workers’ earnings “cuts into spending, which affects business and the state economy,” said Harris.

“If you don’t have a job, you’re not spending money, and that hurts the economy as well,” he said.

Get more on this story from our partners at CNHI News Indiana.