Child Care and the State of the Union

working mom who needs child care at the office

What's the secret to a thriving workforce? There's no shortage of theories on this topic. But for many people, it comes down to the simple ability to get to work. And if you've got young children at home, this isn't always as easy as it might seem. This is a reality for millions of working parents across the country. And it's a theme that President Obama embraced during his recent State of the Union address. As he put it, "It's time we stopped treating child care as a side issue...or as a women's issue...and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us."

Facts about Working Families

That national economic priority can be measured by some illustrative numbers from the Department of Labor Statistics:

  • There are 80 million families in this country
  • Almost half have children under 18
Add to that the fact that in most families, there's at least one working parent. In well over half of married couples with children, both parents are going to a job. For employers, these are critical pieces of data. Because it means there are tens of millions of employees whose productivity is at risk if they don't have the child care they need. That's not just a personal issue, but an economic one.

Economic Risks of the Unsupported Employee

Without child care, you have a large segment of employees who are unable to work effectively. That impacts company productivity, and that impacts bottom lines. Diminished profits are a business problem. And that makes child care not just something employees need to be worried about  but something that should be on employers' minds, too. The positive side of this equation is that when you help employees with child care, you also support your company. We know this from study after study in which parents tell us they're more productive when they have child care, they're more engaged, and they want to stay with the employers who offer it.

Not a "Nice to Have"; a "Must Have"

Facts are facts: for companies to be productive, they need parents who can fully contribute. Yet we continue to see today's parents having a hard time balancing family life with their jobs. The good news is that many of today's top employers are changing their approaches. They're embracing child care not as a personal issue, but as the economic imperative that it is. And they're seeing the upside on multiple fronts.

"In today's economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality child care more than ever," President Obama told the State of the Union audience. "It's not a nice to have, it's a must have." Many of today's most successful companies would most assuredly agree.

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.