Intro from Asheville Chamber President Kit Cramer:
When we talk about childcare, too often in the past, people have thought we’re being altruistic, as in, “it’s for the sweet children.” As a working mother, my greatest stress came from when my childcare failed. Though my kids are adults now, that statement still holds true for how stressful obtaining childcare can be for working families.
When we are discussing childcare, we’re talking about enabling families to engage in work to support themselves. Childcare is a foundational element of quality economic development.
The quality of that childcare also dictates how well prepared children are for their future – in school, in the workforce and in life. The research on early brain development is compelling. Nobel prize winning economists have said that the biggest bang for the educational buck is in the earliest days of a child’s life, long before they get to school.
The pandemic was an object lesson in the importance of childcare as critical infrastructure for business. Companies lost workers over caregiving. And women were disproportionately impacted.
We can’t afford to have anyone on the economic sidelines. We need to recognize that investment in childcare is a way to support a vibrant economy, and that the lack of childcare is a very real barrier to employment.
We need our General Assembly to help us be more competitive for childcare workers. As businesses increase wages and improve benefits, childcare workers are finding opportunities in other fields. As a result, there are fewer available slots for children of workers in all kinds of fields.
When governmental leaders speak of education, I’d like to see them include childcare as part of that discussion…and also an increasing part of their budget.
Childcare…its availability, its cost, its quality, and its workforce…are all critical supports for our economy.
Recommendations to prevent sending our local child care providers over a cliff as the grants wind down:
What you can do: