Study: Lack of child care costs Indiana more than $1 billion

Politics

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana is in desperate need of quality child care.

A new study released Tuesday states many Hoosier parents across the state just don’t have the access they need for their children.

That study found the problem is so bad that our state takes a billion-dollar hit every year because of it.

The detailed report was paid for by the non-profit early learning Indiana and conducted by Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute. Basically, the report details how the lack of child care centers hurt businesses bottom lines.

Kendra Harper raises her 6-year-old daughter as a single mother.

Harper, of Indianapolis explained “It’s a lot of work, making sure she has the best. It can be hard at times.” 

The hardest time, probably a few years ago. Money was tight and it was really hard to find good child care. Harper’s parents watched her daughter while she worked on her own education.

“I probably didn’t even apply for certain stuff because where am I going to send my child while I do it?” Harper explained.

Her story unfortunately isn’t unique. Early Learning Indiana’s 6-month study found Indiana loses about $1.1 Billion a year because of reduced consumer spending, less income and job losses all effects of a lack of child care. The study states it’s a $1.8 Billion hit to Hoosier businesses yearly. The study estimates working parents miss 13-days of work a year because of child care issues.

“Parents have to get called away or sometimes leave their employment because of their child care disruptions,” Early Learning Indiana’s President and C.E.O., Maureen Weber, explained. “Businesses have to compensate for that through overtime pay by paying, sometimes, replacement workers.”

Why? The study states there aren’t enough quality child care centers in general, and the ones parents can find…are tough to pay for. Lawmakers are talking solutions.

State Representative Carey Hamilton, a Democrat from Indianapolis explained Tuesday, “If we were to, as most states have done now, provide pre-K as part of your K-12 education system, so you create a pre-K-12 education system, then all children will have access to that high-quality education at 4-years old.”

State Representative Robert Behning, a Republican from Indianapolis explained Tuesday, “I think we need to walk before we can run. Several states have been expanding [pre-K] statewide overnight and the quality hasn’t been where it should be. They haven’t had the results all of us want to have. I think you’ve got to be judicious in gradually growing.” 

Another solution Weber recommends is businesses working together to bring childcare to their neighborhoods. She said she sees that happening from time-to-time.

She also talked about states giving individual tax credits or social innovation bonds. She said other states across the country are trying things like that…and that’s allowing states to be able to step in and help.

To read the report for yourself, click here .

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