For almost two-thirds of children under age 6 in Hawai‘i, all of their residential parents are in the workforce. For families with two keiki, childcare is the single most expensive budget item after housing. No wonder childcare is a key issue in work–family conflicts.
CTAHR’s Center on the Family, along with Early Childhood Action Strategy, Kamehameha Schools, INPEACE, Hawaii Children’s Action Network, and the Executive Office on Early Learning, recently sponsored an event for local business leaders to learn about how employers can include childcare needs in employee benefits. A panel of local family-friendly businesses shared their experiences offering different forms of childcare support. Attendees, from small and large organizations to private and non-profit companies, discussed their employees’ needs, especially millennial workers and at-home fathers.
Both local experience and national research indicate that childcare benefits pay for themselves. Positive outcomes for employers include reduced absenteeism and employee turnover, lower recruitment and training costs, attracting new workers, and increased employee loyalty and productivity.
Employer strategies range from simple, almost no-cost help to substantial commitments, such as accommodations for nursing mothers, flexible schedules and leave policies, dependent care flexible spending accounts, employer-funded childcare subsidies or allowances, contracting with private childcare providers to hold slots for their employees or care for sick children, and more.
Finally, business leaders were urged to become advocates for family-friendly public policy. By allowing parents to work, childcare is the only business that supports all other businesses. What if childcare were considered part of the basic public infrastructure—along with essentials like utilities and firefighting services—that all employers and workers can rely on having?