MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Universal child care could give Erie the competitive edge

Posted by M. C. on September 5, 2021

It seems to me the free market was providing doing a fine and dandy job of providing childcare. That was before government programs that perverted mother nature’s handiwork with gain of function research, government ineptitude and the resultant “fix” messed the world up.

Set us free and the childcare problem will get solved. More government is not the answer.

When government pays for something, you have to do that something as the government dictates. Education for example. If you want your child indoctrinated at an even earlier age to the government way of thinking, government childcare is the way to get that done.

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=0b3d3100a_1345efd

Court Gould Guest columnist The Erie County Redevelopment Authority illustrates an important point in its recent investments: Child care is economic development.

The authority’s $1 million loan in April to help build the Child Development Center’s new early childhood center in downtown Erie will enable many more parents to hold down jobs while 130 children in the new facility will receive quality, affordable day care. Quality child care is a highly valued commodity. Parents know it. Burdened by the pandemic, employers are now highly sensitized to the issue.

If Erie could pioneer its way to universal child care, it would win in the competition for attracting and retaining talent.

Some cities are dangling cash to attract new residents. More sustainable than a one-time incentive would be institutionalizing a system of child care that pays forward multiple dividends. Invest in kids. Grow a prosperous community.

First to mind when thinking about economic development are investments in business expansion, tech incubators, real estate, etc. Revealed during the pandemic, however, is that such traditional views of what chalks up as economic development is all for not without adequate numbers of workers. Child care, or lack thereof — we appreciate now more than ever — is a determinant of economic growth. Due to the cost of quality child care, many workers forgo jobs. They can’t afford to work, so to speak. Or their work essentially is to cover the care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents (especially mothers) who did have child care had to quit their jobs when the care locations shuttered operations.

Andrea Heberlein, executive director of PA Early Learning Investment Commission, explained during a webinar presented by the Erie Chamber and Growth Partnership that 55% of parents pre-pandemic reported they missed work due to issues of child care which led to a $3.7 billion impact in lost revenue. During the pandemic, 40% of businesses across Pennsylvania reported they lost employees to causes directly related to child care issues. COVID-19 has sensitized the nation, again, to the economic ramifications of child care.

In Pennsylvania,

ChildCare Aware of America reports that single parents pay 43.9% of their income for center-based infant child care. Married parents of two children living at the poverty line pay 84.1% of their household income for center-based child care.

The situation in the city of Erie is no doubt extreme.

Census Reporter indicates 45% (2019 census data) of youth under 18 years live in poverty.

City-Data.com highlights the crisis in reporting 71.9% of Erie’s 5-year-old male children live below the poverty level.

Child care goes to war COVID-19 is not the first time the U.S. has been jolted to attention regarding the imperative of child care as an economic enabler. In response to World War II’s enlisting much of the male workforce into service, the U.S. acted to fill the gap with working women. But Rosie the Riveter was already hard at work caring for children. This led to America’s short-lived, universal child care program when in 1943 the U.S. Senate passed a program to provide for public care of children whose mothers were employed for the duration of World War II.

With the pandemic having shaken the business community, it is understandable that leaders are speaking up in favor of child care and acting within their enterprises and in the public policy arena.

Business leaders see the ROI With the pandemic touching everyone, the starkly visible link between economic development and child care presents a moment to bolster public and private policy. Happily, powerful voices are connecting the dots and urging action. For example, in September 2019, Governor Tom Wolf’s

Ready to Start Task Force presented its ‘Four-Year Framework to Support Pennsylvania’s Infants and Toddlers.’ Making the linkage to enabling workers, it calls for an increase in availability of high-quality child care. This necessity is made again recently by the

PA Workforce Development Association in a May 2021 webinar at which Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry, stated, ‘The business community used to look at child care through an early learning lens but now sees it clearly as a workforce issue.’ In such good company, the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership has included support for early learning centers in its recently adopted Public Policy Agenda.

The

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation presents that the lack of access to quality and affordable child care is a significant barrier that limits the supply of talent. It reports that:

• Pre-pandemic, absences and employee turnover cost Pennsylvania employers an additional estimated $2.88 billion per year and the state misses out on an estimated $591 million annually in tax revenue due to child care issues.

• $1 invested in high-quality early childhood education programs can lead to $16 back in the pockets of the community seen in the form of reduced special education needs, higher rates of grade level retention, reduced incarceration rates, improved health, positive education, and employment outcomes.

What can Erie do? With

9,100 eligible workers in the county now unemployed, one wonders how many are inhibited from holding down a regular job due to lack of child care. The Governor’s Ready to Start Task Force indicates that Erie County has 9,484 children through age 2. Of them, 31.6% are in early childhood programs. That leaves 6,487 not in a program. The question to answer is what is the relationship between the 6,487 children through age 2 not in an early childhood program and the county’s 9,100 unemployed eligible workers? In other words, if quality child care were not a barrier, how many more people would be gainfully employed? The seeming inability to nail this data is perhaps telling and suggests the need for a concerted fresh look at possibilities. And it is likely the case that the community is already expending what it would otherwise cost to provide universal child care but instead buy having to involuntarily absorb the high business costs of employee shortages and reduced productivity due to lack of child care.

The case is clear that child care is critical to not just COVID recovery but equitable economic progress upon which Erie’s aspirations depend.

Recommendations Erie would be well-advised to double down on strategies to provide quality child care to all children in need. To the multiple bottom-line benefits, James Grunke, president of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, stated, ‘Child care is not just an early childhood developmental win that pays down the road, but a present term economic imperative to enable people to work on whose productivity Erie’s prosperity rides.’

Erie Child Care Task Force Convene an Erie Childcare Task Force charged with making Erie a national role model in universal infant and toddler care ages 0-3. It would address:

Data : Determine how many children are wanting for child care and how many parents could be working if they had it. Develop the costs and monies to provide universal child care ages 0-3.

In addition to the benefits to children, parents, employers, and the overall economy, imagine the national buzz if Erie were to ensure quality child care for all infants and toddlers. Then, Erie would both nurture its future and address an immediate need whereby quality child care is essential economic development.

Court Gould, who lives in downtown Erie, is a sustainable solutions consultant. (An expanded version of this article was first published by the Jefferson Educational Society on July 23, 2021, and remains available free to download at JESErie.org.)

The Erie County Redevelopment Authority illustrates an important point in its recent investments: Child care is economic development.

The authority’s $1 million loan in April to help build the Child Development Center’s new early childhood center in downtown Erie will enable many more parents to hold down jobs while 130 children in the new facility will receive quality, affordable day care. Quality child care is a highly valued commodity. Parents know it. Burdened by the pandemic, employers are now highly sensitized to the issue.

If Erie could pioneer its way to universal child care, it would win in the competition for attracting and retaining talent. Some cities are dangling cash to attract new residents. More sustainable than a one-time incentive would be institutionalizing a system of child care that pays forward multiple dividends. Invest in kids. Grow a prosperous community.

First to mind when thinking about economic development are investments in business expansion, tech incubators, real estate, etc. Revealed during the pandemic, however, is that such traditional views of what chalks up as economic development is all for not without adequate numbers of workers. Child care, or lack thereof — we appreciate now more than ever — is a determinant of economic growth. Due to the cost of quality child care, many workers forgo jobs. They can’t afford to work, so to speak. Or their work essentially is to cover the care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents (especially mothers) who did have child care had to quit their jobs when the care locations shuttered operations.

Andrea Heberlein, executive director of PA Early Learning Investment Commission, explained during a webinar presented by the Erie Chamber and Growth Partnership that 55% of parents pre-pandemic reported they missed work due to issues of child care which led to a $3.7 billion impact in lost revenue. During the pandemic, 40% of businesses across Pennsylvania reported they lost employees to causes directly related to child care issues. COVID-19 has sensitized the nation, again, to the economic ramifications of child care.

In Pennsylvania, ChildCare Aware of America reports that single parents pay 43.9% of their income for center-based infant child care. Married parents of two children living at the poverty line pay 84.1% of their household income for center-based child care.

The situation in the city of Erie is no doubt extreme. Census Reporter indicates 45% (2019 census data) of youth under 18 years live in poverty. City-Data.com highlights the crisis in reporting 71.9% of Erie’s 5-yearold male children live below the poverty level.

Child care goes to war

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