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Working Moms Say Childcare Stipends Would Be Helpful In Keeping Them in the Workforce

Women are being driven out of the workforce. In September 2020 alone, nearly 800,000 women left their jobs. Four times the amount of men. The pandemic exacerbated a problem that had been long brewing; limited quality and affordable childcare options for families lead to tough, sometimes painful, decisions about their careers.

The growing lack of childcare in the United States is a crisis. Working parents feel this every day. When employers aren’t understanding and empathetic to fluctuating and unpredictable childcare needs, families suffer. Employers need to do more to help their workforce and keep working parents employed. 

Now with the pandemic, there is greater uncertainty. School’s close when there is an outbreak of COVID-19. Daycares ask children to quarantine when and if they’ve been exposed to the virus. This and along with many other reasons childcare falls through has working parents at their wit’s end. 

CEO and Founder of Helpr, Kasey Edwards agrees. “The cost of childcare had already been referred to as a crisis before the pandemic, and now we're at a fever pitch. In higher ed, we see much more sharing of costs to subsidize tuition rates for students, but in early education and childcare in the U.S., the full responsibility is on the parents. The pandemic has been incredibly effective at showcasing to companies their role in sharing costs and the return on investment. It's keeping folks from leaving their jobs through guidance and subsidy and preventing major brain drain. At Helpr, we think the increased participation of companies in care support will have a long-term effect on how we shape care costs in our country, and that this will ultimately be a good thing.”

Cost-sharing in higher education is common. While the higher education system has its flaws, there are some processes in place that ensure equity among people who can’t otherwise afford the high cost of tuition. This virtually does not exist for early childhood education, it leaves families completely responsible for the incredibly high cost of childcare tuition and fees. It’s unrealistic and inequitable to assume everyone can gain access to this kind of care. Even though, nearly all working parents need it.

That’s a great opportunity for business leaders. Employers who offer care support for their employees can help grow their businesses while investing in the health, safety, and wellbeing of their workforce. Employers have an opportunity to shape how we pay for and afford childcare in this country. It can be an example of how innovators can both invest in their employees and receive a great return on those investments. 

Many moms don’t want to leave their jobs. But the inflexible work schedules, in-person work requirements, and lack of childcare coupled with distance learning or hybrid school models, many working moms and parents don’t have a choice. 

In a recent survey, 47% of moms said that childcare stipends would be the most helpful thing employers could do to keep them in the workforce. Respondents said childcare stipends would help them only after flexible work schedules and remote work. This highlights a growing trend; when employers offer these benefits to their employees, they’re much more likely to stay. This is important considering 11.5 million people have decided—or have been forced—to leave their jobs. 

Sourcing childcare is important, and with many facilities saying they’ll likely close up shop for good without additional assistance, finding childcare is not the main driver in women leaving the workforce, it’s paying for it. Employers who require in-person work must provide women with benefits that can help them thrive both in the company and in their families.