Childcare is vital to Rotary’s economic recovery

Sense. Alana DiMario and Sandra Cano

Senator Alana DiMario, D-Narragansett, represents District 36. Senator Sandra Cano, D-Pawtucket, represents District 8 and chairs the Senate Education Committee.

As we continue to struggle to emerge from a pandemic and decide how best to invest money for our future, we must focus on child care.

It’s no secret that many families face enormous difficulties in finding child care for their youngsters – and even more so in paying for it. Access to quality child care is declining and families who can find a place pay on average more than $ 9,000 per year for child care aged 4 and under. And that was even before COVID arrived.

As we try to get our economy back on track before the pandemic, it is imperative that we understand that quality child care is the key to a prosperous and robust economy. Not only do parents need safe, affordable, high-quality child care to work, but businesses lose money when they can’t find staff or their employees don’t show up for work.

When child care crashes – because a child is sick, it’s a snowy day or a distance learning day is called – productivity at work is going to suffer.

Reliable childcare services also allow parents to attend vocational training or educational programs, so their absence is a barrier to workforce training. This will have a negative impact on achieving staffing levels to meet needs in the areas of health care, early childhood education, and mental and behavioral health.

Many parents work from home, struggling to work while looking after their children. Other families are particularly underserved, such as those whose parents work non-traditional schedules, live in rural communities, have a child with special needs, or are immigrants. Low-income families who need financial assistance face even greater barriers.

To restart the economy, we must muster resources for these essential workers who care for our children. Only then can we get back on track.

The early childhood education workforce is severely underpaid for its expertise. The average early educator earns $ 12.12 an hour – one of the lowest paying jobs in the United States, even though many educators have college degrees. And the impact of these educators on our youngest citizens will affect them throughout their lives.

The child care crisis has taken a huge toll. Across the country in 2018, working parents lost $ 37 billion in earnings due to reduced productivity and time spent looking for work. Businesses lost $ 13 billion due to declining revenues due to reduced productivity and increased recruiting costs. The economy lost $ 7 billion in income taxes due to declining incomes of working parents. And that’s all before COVID-19 happens and makes it worse.

It is time for Rhode Island’s leaders to tackle this problem as a priority. We urge the use of all available funds for child care and any other funding necessary to stabilize the child care system and adequately meet the needs of working families and early childhood educators. as an essential step for the recovery and future growth of Rhode Island.

The state is fortunate that the leadership of the state Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the governor, have been very receptive to the emergency call for child custody.

To that end, we need to take a close look at increasing the family income limit for the state’s child care assistance program, helping programs compete for staff, stopping the exodus of workers. qualified childcare and maintain access to quality childcare services.

We have the resources. It’s time to act. Let’s invest in our children and create a cycle of stability and success that will benefit the people of Rhode Island forever.

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