PA Chamber, ELIC, Center for Rural PA Report Highlights Childcare and Workforce Challenges

Among the many challenges businesses have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic is an exodus of workers, due to widespread business shutdowns that kept parents at home with their young and school-aged children. With the pandemic not yet in the nation’s rearview, childcare hardships remain for employees at businesses of all sizes, crossing all industry sectors. Addressing this issue and bringing these talented people back to the workforce is central to the PA Chamber’s robust “Bringing PA Back” initiative.

That’s why we partnered with the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission and the Central for Rural Pennsylvania to conduct an analysis that is helping determine what employers across the Commonwealth are doing today to support families and the workforce and help them in the future. As noted in a press release, PA Chamber President Gene Barr said the report findings “include best practices for businesses and program administrators and, we hope, will help inform lawmakers developing public policy that strengthens childcare and the workforce.”

While the pandemic certainly threw employees’ childcare needs into chaos, these problems existed well before COVID-19 upended life as we knew it. In fact, it is estimated that Pennsylvania suffers a $3.47 billion yearly impact due to childcare issues. As the pandemic has raised awareness among employers of the barriers that insufficient or unreliable childcare can be to their stability, growth, and profitability, the report identifies opportunities to help employers better understand their employees’ childcare needs; the wide range of childcare support options businesses can provide, including low and no-cost options; existing childcare resources; and the early learning system.

The report also recognizes that small businesses are more aware of their employees’ particular childcare needs than any other business. Of course, the PA Chamber understands that as every business is unique, some may not be able to offer the range of flexibility as others. However, we are urging our broad-based membership to review the report and seek remedies to the childcare challenges facing the state, so that we can fulfill our “Bringing PA Back” mission of reviving our economy and helping businesses improve their recruitment and retention strategies for the future.