As a parent myself, few things throw off my work day as much as a wrench in my childcare — like a kid being sick and needing to come home or a school/childcare center being closed for the day. The time required to change plans while balancing work, the desire to check-in on your child throughout the work day to make sure they’re doing okay… and this is as someone with a fair amount of work flexibility, a spouse who also has flexibility, and nearby family who can pitch in.
Childcare, while expensive, is a vital piece of the infrastructure that makes my and my spouse’s careers possible — and hence the (hopefully positive 😇) economic impact we have possible. It’s made me very sympathetic to the notion that we need to take childcare policy much more seriously — something that I think played out for millions of households when COVID disrupted schooling and childcare plans.
The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell also lays this out clearly in an Opinion piece, tracking how the closure of one Wisconsin day-care had cascading impacts on the affected parents and then their employers.
Census data suggest that, as things are, the child-care industry nationwide has been operating in the red for two straight years. Now, as programs still stressed by the pandemic lose a major source of public funds, many programs around the country are considering closure. When these businesses do shut down, they can send shock waves throughout their local economies. The shuttered child-care business sheds jobs; parents that relied on that business lose care arrangements for their kids, which in turn disrupts parents’ ability to work; and the employers of those parents must then scramble to adjust for lost workforce hours.
While each of those can feel like an individual misfortune, they are all part of a larger system of how our country cares for our young while adults work — or fails to do so. And the ripple effects can be enormous. Here’s one story of what happened downstream when a single day-care center in Wisconsin shut its doors.
Opinion | What happened to this Wisconsin day-care should concern us all
Catherine Rampell | Washington Post