More than half of employees with children are considering changing jobs to get better childcare benefits

The expiration of pandemic-era childcare subsidies on September 30 has had a profound impact on more than 200,000 childcare providers nationwide who relied on those funds to pay their staff. Without this crucial support, over 70,000 childcare centers are now at risk of closure, leaving the parents of over 3.2 million children, as well as their employers, to face the challenge of finding alternative childcare solutions.

Even before the subsidies expired, the ability of working parents to balance employment and childcare needs was already stretched to its limits. In a survey conducted by Catalyst, a nonprofit supporting women in the workplace, more than half of employees with children stated that they had considered leaving their organization due to a lack of childcare benefits.

These findings highlight the urgent and critical nature of the issue, with Erin Souza-Rezendes, Vice President of Global Communications at Catalyst, noting that the numbers could likely increase given the current reality faced by working parents without childcare subsidies. Employers have a vital role to play in addressing this workplace challenge.

Women, in particular, express concerns about how the increasing strain of caregiving responsibilities will impact their careers. 67% of women fear negative effects on their professional growth, compared to 52% of men. Among women, 44% anticipate the need to change jobs to better balance childcare with work demands, while the figure stands at 32% for men. Parents of color experience an even more pronounced impact, with half of Black and Latinx working parents stating their need to change jobs, compared to 34% of white parents. Furthermore, 35% of women predict that they may have to cease working to manage their childcare needs.

Affordability is another critical issue. A significant 55% of employees state that they cannot afford childcare without financial assistance or employer subsidies. Furthermore, the demand for these benefits is evident, as 75% of respondents express their willingness to utilize childcare benefits if provided by their employers. Additionally, 70% of working parents prioritize employers that offer childcare benefits over those that do not. Moreover, 59% indicate that they would take advantage of other caregiving benefits, such as eldercare support, if available.

While it is understood that not all employers may have the financial means to provide such benefits, they can alleviate the burden of caregiving by offering alternatives such as emergency paid time off for childcare or elder care, financial subsidies, flexible spending accounts, flexible or hybrid work options, and employee discounts for childcare. Communicating these offerings clearly and consistently to employees demonstrates a commitment to supporting the critical intersection of childcare and work, ultimately positioning the employer as an attractive choice for job-seekers.

In summary, the expiration of childcare subsidies has created significant challenges for both childcare providers and working parents. Employers play a crucial role in addressing this issue by implementing supportive measures and benefits that alleviate the burden of caregiving responsibilities. By doing so, they can become employers of choice and send a clear message to their employees about their commitment to addressing this critical issue.  

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