Local Businesses Advocate for Investment in Child care as Critical Workforce Infrastructure

June 27, 2023

Asheville, NC – Child care is critical to WNC’s economy. As the workforce behind the workforce, early educators support employers, large and small, across our community by making it possible for parents to work. The earliest days are also critical to brain development, setting children up for success in school and in life.

Business and community leaders gathered at Verner Central for an Action Hour Tuesday, June 27th to advocate for continued state investment in child care. The event was hosted by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Child care is a critical component of economic development. That’s why our policy agenda includes advocating for investment in child care,” said Kit Cramer, President & CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.  “We’re at a critical juncture. Without public investment in child care now, we face a potential critical loss of child care workers. Additional losses in child care availability would be devastating to our economy.”

In this Action Hour, professionals from local businesses and nonprofit organizations teamed up with young children, to paint and cut out handprints to send to state legislators along with an advocacy message encouraging them to invest in child care.

The group called for state legislators to extend funding for Child Care Stabilization Grants issued during the pandemic.

“Employers are struggling to hire and retain workers. Access to affordable, quality child care is a key factor for many parents in employment decisions,” Cramer said.

A recent NC Chamber Foundation survey showed:

  • 26% of parents with children five and under said they left the workforce because they couldn’t find affordable child care.
  • 60% of parents with children five and under said they had to miss work because of a problem with child care.
  • 32% of parents with children five and under did not pursue job training or continuing education because of a lack of affordable child care.

The child care industry has comparatively low wages. If Child Care Stabilization Grants are not extended, many child care workers would face from 12-20% decreases in hourly wage, forcing many to seek employment in other industries.

Additionally, child care is part of the education continuum, supporting the healthy development and education of tomorrow’s workforce. Economic studies have shown that investment in early education (in the first 2000 days of life) has a high return on investment with better outcomes in education, sociability, economic productivity and reduced crime (heckmanequation.org).

“There is an opportunity this year to put our state on a path towards a better future by allocating critical funds to support child care providers,” Cramer said. “We are requesting an increase in child care funding in the state’s budget this year. The children, families, and businesses in North Carolina are depending on it.”

Partners in this advocacy effort include Buncombe Partnership for Children, Children First/Communities in Schools and Verner Center for Early Learning.

The Action Hour was the culmination of a three-part series combining the Asheville Chamber’s popular WomanUP programming aimed at women in business and the Chamber’s advocacy and policy initiatives. Earlier programs in this series shared economic impacts of child care availability and importance of quality early education. More resources on this topic on the Asheville Chamber blog.

The WomanUP in Action series was sponsored by Her Two Cents podcast and presenting sponsors of  WomanUP include AdventHealth, Webb Investment Services, Wells Fargo and Pratt & Whitney.

About Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

For 125 years, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce has been the catalyst for economic vitality in our community. The Asheville Chamber connects member organizations, both large and small, to valuable resources such as economic development and research, business education, marketing opportunities and advocacy. Asheville Chamber initiatives have stimulated economic development, influenced public policy and supported the growth of thousands of local and regional businesses. Learn more at www.ashevillechamber.org.

Click here for photos from the event. If used, please give photo credit to the Asheville Area Chamber.