This blog was written by Alfred Sanchez as part of Child Care NOW’s guest blog series.
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is a social and economic engine of South Florida. As a membership and advocacy organization, we do our part to foster sustainable economic and business development to create an environment where existing employers, startups, and workers thrive.
What does a healthy environment for business look like? In Miami, it means embracing our diversity and progress, but some things should be constants. These include good schools, strong transportation infrastructure, affordable housing, and access to high-quality, affordable child care.
When workers have access to affordable, high-quality child care, they are less likely to experience unplanned absences, which reduce productivity and hurt an employer’s bottom line. These absences aren’t negligible, either. A 2017 survey reported that 21% of households with at least one working parent reported being absent from work in the last three months. Some employers even provide child care on premises as a way to keep productivity high and as a recruitment tool.
With access to child care, they’re also less likely to drop out of the workforce entirely, which is a tremendous expense for employers. For most workers, it costs approximately 20% of salary to replace a lost employee. That’s significant whether you’re a small or large business.
We also know that investing in high-quality early learning now will pay off in the long run for our future workforce. In fact, high-quality child care has been shown to have positive impacts on children’s cognitive and social developments, leading to better outcomes in school and later in life. When I ran the YMCA of Greater Miami, countless parents from our child care program would share with me how much more prepared their child was for kindergarten than many of the other children in the class.
This year, as in years past, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce did our part advocating for increased access to high-quality early learning opportunities because we know that affordable child care is essential for low-income working parents to maintain employment and become financially self-sufficient. As part of our state policy agenda, we urged our legislators in Tallahassee to increase funding for School Readiness, restore voluntary pre-kindergarten funding to 2007 levels, and expand the Help Me Grow program.
In the end, the Florida legislature increased funding for the School Readiness program by $25 million, but voluntary pre-kindergarten funding remained flat and the Help Me Grow program was cut by $600 thousand. We will continue pushing for more, but everyone has to do their part. Now, it’s time for the federal government to increase investments to expand access to affordable, high-quality child care for all children who need it. Child care strengthens families, businesses, communities, and the economy.
Alfred Sanchez is the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, South Florida’s first and the longest-sustaining business development organization and one of the largest chambers in the southeastern U.S.