Report from U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, The Education Trust showcases why local, state chambers of commerce should step up to support female child care providers of color to support small businesses, workforce and children’s health
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and The Education Trust have released a landmark report sharing insights from Black and Latina child care providers about how their work has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report also outlines ways state and local chambers of commerce can support providers, who play a crucial role in local economies and support millions of working parents.
Equity in Child Care is Everyone’s Business represents months of research and interviews with state, regional and local chambers of commerce and child care providers from urban, suburban and rural areas across the country. The report highlights a range of challenges reported by early education professionals—from accessing COVID-related financial and health resources to racial inequalities that undermine their full participation in the business community.
The report also outlines ways in which leaders at state and local chambers of commerce can support these businesses.
“While the pandemic and economic downturn have had repercussions for everyone in child care, they have hit female child care providers of color especially hard,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “This report helps put a human face on the troubling data we’re seeing within the child care industry — and illuminates the opportunities for state and local chambers to help ensure that these often-overlooked businesses not only survive but thrive.”
Key findings from the study show that:
- Hiring and retaining high-quality staff has become especially for child care providers difficult during the pandemic.
- Stress and strain are leading some providers to leave the workforce.
- There is a disconnect between child care supply and demand. As child care programs were forced to close, some permanently, working parents—particularly women, parents of color, and parents who cannot work from home—struggled to find alternative child care, and some had to leave the workforce as a result.
- Providers are struggling financially.
- Pandemic safety concerns are a major source of stress for providers and parents.
Local and state chambers of commerce can help by:
- Sharing resources and information with providers about funding opportunities, health insurance, and COVID-19-related health and safety resources for small businesses. Providers are often searching for such resources but have difficulty finding them.
- Offering networking and marketing for providers and employers. State and local chambers can create opportunities for providers to connect with chamber members and community leaders, such as those from local financial institutions, business advisers, and community members offering professional development opportunities, higher education resources, and marketing and growth strategy supports.
- Strengthening diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, including leadership and professional development opportunities for female providers of color. State and local chambers can proactively invite female providers of color to join their organizations and other networks. They can provide information about business coaching and mentorship programs specifically designed to support small businesses owned by women and people of color.
- Listing child care resources and referral information on existing state and local chamber websites to better connect child care supply with demand. State and local chamber websites often offer a multitude of resources for the local business community. Chamber leaders can help to align child care supply and demand by listing local providers, availability, and services on these websites.
- Communicating child care needs to state and local representatives. State and local chambers can advocate for policies that support child care providers, parents and, ultimately, the children in their communities by giving them a strong start.