Child care can often be a major drain on a family budget– and too often it’s just too difficult to even find quality care. It’s a real frustration for parents, and for businesses too, since some workers didn’t return to the workforce after COVID-19 because of it.
On Thursday, the Quad Cities Chamber and United Way Quad Cities brought experts and business leaders together at Moline’s Centre Station to share ideas about how to make child care more affordable and available to the community.
CEO Angie Kendall, with Hand In Hand, said that she’s been in the Quad Cities for 16 years, and child care always has been an issue. Because of that, she relies heavily on quality workers to run her business. (Hand In Hand empowers children and adults of all abilities to learn and grow by providing inclusive programs and supporting families.)
“We are in a good position right now but know that workforce is going to continue to be an issue and individuals need childcare,” she said. “We need high-quality teachers and employees to provide high-quality child care.”
She and dozens of other child-care providers who were a part of the Q2030 business forum focused on child care. (Q2030 is a community and economic development initiative designed to make the bi-state area a cooler, more creative, connected and prosperous place by the year 2030.)
“We’re facing the same issue that all businesses are facing: workforce. Actually this morning we heard this morning that it’s workforce, workforce, and workforce,” she said.
Q2030 Executive Director Kate Jennings also shared what is going on with availability in most of the day-care centers.
“We definitely have providers in the community who has have spots available, but they can’t find their own workforce,” she said.
The pandemic only made things worse.
“We know that 60% of non-working parents or family members say that child care is the reason that they are not entering back into the workforce,” she said.
Nationally, child care is not supposed to take up more than 7% of a family’s income. According to Child Care of America and United States Department of Health and Human Services, in both Iowa and Illinois, the average cost for child care is higher than that.
“We think that child care or access to child care is really a piece that would help get people back into the workforce,” said Jennings.
Potential solutions are the focus.
“So we’re hoping that a follow-p project that we can do along with this business forum…. is work with the education sector to see how we can try to help them build a pipeline of people into early childhood education careers, support child-care workers in other ways, or for businesses to support child care,” she said.
Q2030, The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce and United Way of the Quad Cities are all committed to working with local organizations to improve access to child care.