Editorial: Childcare is everybody’s business

Everyone knows that the workforce is the primary challenge for nearly every business, especially businesses in Iowa and Illinois.

Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t know that fixing childcare could be a game changer in improving the workforce.

Thankfully, this is changing.

Nearly $3 billion is lost in productivity, revenue, and earnings between Illinois and Iowa due to childcare deficiencies.

A troubling national pre-Covid-19 survey shared by the ReadyNation Illinois this impact:

  • 63% of workers left work earlier than normal.
  • 56% were late for work.
  • 55% missed a whole day of work.
  • 54% reported being distracted at work.
  • And 32% said they missed part of their work shift.

The reality, the Iowa Women’s Foundation said is childcare is “the workforce behind the workforce” and solutions have to be found to ensure the industry can do what needs to be done now and in the future.

Now the private sector, nonprofits and government seem to finally be working together to address this important issue, including with a recent event that brought together leaders from the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the Quad Cities and Q2020.

“At Q2030, we recognize that high quality childcare will help attain our regional vision of a community that attracts and retains families and young professionals, and we look forward to continuing to pull in additional businesses and stakeholders to engage on this topic,” said Kate Jennings, Q2030 executive director.

In September, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds awarded $26.6 million in grant funding to 23 projects intended to help businesses jumpstart new childcare opportunities and make it easier for Iowans to find childcare options through their employer. 

“Iowa businesses know that access to quality childcare is a major factor in employees’ ability to work,” the governor said. “These awards will support and incentivize employer investment in childcare resources on site or through community partnerships and strengthen our efforts to provide high quality childcare throughout the state of Iowa.” 

We especially appreciate these grants because it engages the private sector to help fix the problem.

In 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker created several investments to improve access to childcare while bolstering childcare providers and their employees. They included bonuses of up to $1,000 for eligible childcare workers as well as $300 million to be made available to providers across the state.

“Childcare is an essential part of a strong and equitable economy, and I’m proud that Illinois is leading the nation in supporting families and providers,” said Mr. Pritzker. “Without safe and affordable childcare, too many caregivers — especially women — can’t return to the workforce. We’re taking a major step to address this problem in Illinois, and rebuild our childcare ecosystem — and rebuild it better.”

Progress is being made.

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