You can’t go very far these days without hearing about the national and local child care crisis that existed prior to COVID and continues even more so today. GSI would like to help employers help their employees combat this challenging situation. Through our Chamber and Economic Development networks, a plethora of child care studies and white papers have become available. Not all of the information is pertinent, but some are extremely valuable. The checklist at this link provides very actionable and low barrier options that employers can implement to help not only your employees, but your organization as well.
In addition, GSI is partnering with multiple community based organizations on a Washington Department of Commerce planning grant being lead by Community-Minded Enterprises called “The Zone Child Care Partnership” to pilot a Child Care Shared Service model in the ZoNE (northeast Spokane). This project will result in increased child care capacity, and child care that is more responsive and reflective of the needs of families who work, and businesses who need employees. We would welcome all employers who are passionate about doing more for the child care crisis to contact Stacia Rasmussen (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information on the project or how your organization can become involved in this work.
Supporting Your Employees and Strengthening Your Bottom Line
Implement policies at your company; these policies bolster your bottom line through increased productivity and the ability of your company to attract and retain the talent it needs to succeed.
Consider different financial ways that you can support your employees
- Find out what your employees’ needs are
- Survey your workforce on their work-family needs and collect data on utilization rates of your existing programs.
- Offer flexible work arrangements
- Policies such as telecommuting and flexible start/stop times enable employees to better integrate their work responsibilities with their caregiving responsibilities.
- Educate your employees about their tax and subsidy eligibility
- Many of your employees may not be aware of which local, state, and federal tax breaks and programs they may be eligible for to help with the cost of care.
- Work with your accountant to conduct an educational session or compile a fact sheet for your employees.
- Create a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for your employees
- An FSA provides a tax break for families and is available through the benefits package offered by a company.
- An FSA can be used to pay for up to $5,000 of childcare-related expenses using pretax dollars.
- Contribute to or subsidize childcare
- Contribute up to $5,000 of the cost of each employee’s child without the subsidy being added to their taxable income.
- This also saves you from paying employment taxes on that portion because it is not taxed as income.
- Provide access to a care marketplace or resource and referral service
- Provide membership to any number of online marketplaces or resource and referral services that can help your employees identify care in their area.
- Provide backup care options
- Some companies can set up a service for both in-home and center-based backup care for when employees’ regular care arrangements fall through.
- Provide on-site childcare
- Build an on-site childcare center; think about the broadest possible swath of your workforce that could have access to this center.
Business Leadership for the Country and Economy
Use your voice to put childcare on the map with the general public and consumers, as well as with policymakers.
- Put childcare on the map for other business leaders
- Propose that care be a top agenda item for any trade groups, business coalitions, and task forces of which you are a part.
- Advocate for public policy
- Include childcare in your local business organization’s legislative agenda.
- Advocate for smart and effective public policy on care at the local, state, and federal levels; work with local and federal advocacy groups to create transparency and accountability in the childcare system so that everyone better understands how money is spent and quality is ensured.
- Offer to list your name or business on sign-on letters, pledges, and the like, that aim to advance the issue of childcare. You can often find out more about these letters through the local, state, and national coalitions and advocacy groups working on this issue.
- Use your customer base or membership base to influence
- Use your customer base or chamber membership base to share information about why childcare is important to your company and its employees or business more broadly.
- Include the topic of childcare and its relevance to your workforce or your personal story and relationship to childcare in your company’s newsletter.
Opportunities for Business Engagement
Ten things you can do to advance access to high-quality early childhood education and care.
- Join Forces
- Join or build an early childhood business coalition to educate and engage peers and the public as part of an economic development agenda. Business leaders make powerful public messengers for support of public investment in effective early care and learning programs and the economic benefits that high-quality childcare brings to states and local communities.
- Speak Out for Children
- Share your knowledge through speaking engagements, op-eds, and blogs that highlight the impact of high-quality childcare on children, families, local businesses, and regional economic development.
- Engage in already existing social media campaigns related to care or use your own social media to make your voice heard.
- Launch a media campaign with local partners to focus public attention on the critical role childcare plays in improved school achievement and a stronger regional economy.
- Host a speaker at your board or company meeting or leadership retreat on the relevance to your company of early education and care.
- Contribute Through Philanthropy
- Invest your philanthropic dollars in organizations and providers that support early care and learning programs for low-income children.
- Target corporate social responsibility funds to programs and initiatives that support high-quality childcare, like scholarship programs that help ensure low-income children have access to high quality programs.
- Donate materials like books and art supplies to under-resourced local childcare providers.
- Lead by Example
- Implement a childcare benefits program and consider establishing an on-site childcare center.
- Employees who know that their children are in safe, reliable, and high-quality environments are more engaged, productive workers.