Our Childcare Crisis: The View from Wisconsin

Our last issue of EntreWorks Insights discussed America’s childcare crisis, noting the pain it is causing many families and how those impacts affect community talent development efforts.  A new study from Wisconsin echoes these findings.   The report was sponsored by the Wisconsin Economic Development Institute, and it serves as something of a meta-analysis of recent surveys and studies on the childcare crisis in Wisconsin.  In general, the news is not good.  Families can’t find care, and when they do find it, it is often very expensive or of poor quality.  Meanwhile, childcare workers face difficult work conditions with poor pay and a host of business management challenges.

Overall, the study estimates that Wisconsin’s childcare crisis could cost the state around $4-6 billion over the long term due to lower productivity and other impacts.  Family-level impacts are more immediate, with some Wisconsin families spending as much as 25% of income on childcare costs.  The report also highlights the growing recognition among business leaders that childcare is an essential tool to attract and retain talent.   We’re starting to see more studies of this type around the US, and that’s a good thing.  Hopefully, this will stimulate businesses, economic developers, and elected officials to take action.