Why Should Employers Care About Early Childhood Education? ROI!
Impacts Your Current Workforce
Early childhood education impacts the workforce today and in the future. In Wabash County nearly 80% of parents with young children are working and need access to early childhood education in order to be productive employees. However, the lack of affordable and accessible early childhood education affect employers ability to recruit new talent and retain their existing talent.
A Washington Post poll found that three-quarters of mothers and half of fathers have either passed up work opportunities, switched jobs or quit to care for their kids.
A parent who leaves the workforce loses up to four times their annual salary per year.
An Indiana University study assessed the economic impact on the state and businesses resulting from child care related work disruptions (i.e. absenteeism and employee turnover).
Impacts Your Future Workforce
Economists have found that high quality early childhood education offers one of the highest returns of any public investment – at least $4 for every dollar spent. When children enroll in high quality early childhood education, we see a reduction in special education costs and school retention costs, increases in post-secondary attainment, and lower crime and social services costs (A. Nelson, “The Economic Impacts of investing in Early Childhood Education in Indiana, 2016).
Wabash County's Score
What's more, children ages 0 to 5 who attend highly-rated programs have a statistically better chance at succeeding in school, achieving an education beyond high school, getting well-paying jobs, owning their own home, paying taxes, and contributing to the economy. They use fewer emergency medical resources, fewer social services, and fewer criminal justice dollars.
A Community like Wabash County doesn't have to wait 15-18 years to see a return. Early childhood education impacts parents and the workforce now. Early childhood education helps our community so it can thrive long term. Our communities economic success can be directly connected to Kindergarten readiness!
Employee Benefits You Can Offer
Reliable child care helps parents stay in the workforce and avoid absences due to child care issues. Employers can support their workforce and local early childhood education programs through the different options listed below. Very few early education education programs survive on the fees that they collect from families, and they cannot charge more to families which would make their programs unaffordable. Programs must have other sources of revenue and often raise money through events, major gifts, and sponsorships.
Employers who are looking for a way to support their workforce of today and tomorrow may want to consider these options.
1. Set up (and invest in) Dependent Care Assistance Plans (DCAPs)
DCAPs are flexible spending accounts - similar to accounts used for healthcare costs. Employers and employees can both contribute to these accounts, setting aside up to $5,000 annually in pre-tax household income to offset the costs of child care.
2. Reserve Seats at local early childhood education programs for your employees
You can approach local programs that provide what your employees need—serving a range of ages, located close to your company, offering convenient hours, and providing a high-quality learning environment. Your company and the program(s) can agree to terms that benefit both parties.
3. Offer Tuition Scholarships
Employers can offer tuition scholarships to employees whose children are in early childhood education programs, similar to the college scholarships that some employers offer. These scholarship payments are made directly to the early childhood education programs, not made through reimbursements to employees.
4. Provide On-Site or Near-Site Program
This option would require the greatest investment but might have the greatest return on that investment. A company could have an on-site or near-site early childhood education program that they operate and run or contract with an early childhood education program to operate and run.
5. Invest in Community-Wide Efforts that Support Early Childhood Education
In Wabash County we are establishing a scholarship fund called "First Five Scholarships" to help low-income families afford high quality early childhood education. Employers can contribute toward this fund to help families who need this support the most have access to our highest quality programs and get the right start that they need to be on a pathway for success. This will impact our workforce of the future and also help more individuals be able to work and be productive. Contact Julie Garber at the Community Foundation of Wabash County to learn about how you can get involved.
Support Employees with Young Children
What are some other ways you can support your employees with young children?
Connect your employees to the information they need! You may be learning about this for the first time yourself. As you learn, be sure to share your new knowledge with all your employees. Here are a few low- or no-cost communication strategies:
Host Brown Bag Lunch Talks with local experts who can explain early childhood education and answer questions for your employees.
Include tips and articles in your staff newsletters, employee website portal, etc. See the resources listed below in frequently asked questions.
Implement an Early Childhood Education “Open Enrollment” each year during which employees are reminded of the benefits you offer and encouraged to come to management with their questions. You could partner with your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency to staff this event and answer questions.
Add information about your benefits and the broader early childhood education system to your new hire orientation packet.
Post articles and flyers on your staff bulletin boards.
Add informational slides or a video to your electronic monitors.
The Wabash County Early Childhood Education Coalition can help get you connected to resources and information to share with any of the options listed!