Today, 66% of babies and toddlers in the Garden State have all parents in the workforce. That’s about 200,000 children under the age of three who will need some form of child care so that their parents can work. The quality of these early child care settings will have an immense impact on both the work success of the parent and the trajectory of the child’s life.
Findings show that employees are less likely to miss work due to child care challenges, such as a sudden lapse in care, and are more focused on their job when their children are in quality child care settings that are safe and reliable. This leads to increased productivity, better business outcomes and an increased overall return-on-investment.
Equally important, quality child care is often a baby’s first educational experience, supporting their physical, cognitive and emotional growth. When young children are exposed to enriching learning opportunities, they are more likely to excel in school, have longer life expectancy and become more productive adults.
However, many families feel the financial pressure of choosing between the care they can afford and the care their children deserve. To put it into perspective, quality child care in New Jersey can cost as much as college tuition at a public university.
Employers can contribute to New Jersey’s economic health and at the same time, the success of future generations, by investing in quality early child care. Some businesses have found that providing on-site child care or offering financial assistance for that care, gives them a competitive advantage and has led to as much as a 30% increase in employee retention. Research by Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman showed that every $1 invested in quality early childhood programs yields returns between $4 and $16.
The evidence is overwhelming, quality early child care lays the foundation for the rest of a child’s life, affecting everything from classroom performance, to earning potential to health outcomes. The presence of high-quality child care also provides important workforce support to allow parents to be the best they can be, both at work and at home. Effective investments in quality early child care would help ensure a thriving New Jersey.
Business leaders have the potential to advance quality, affordable child care as a workforce benefit that will create sustainable outcomes for New Jersey’s economy.