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Report says inadequate childcare costs Shelby County more than $422 million per year

The group Tennessee for Quality Early Education (TQEE) released its ‘Workforce of Today and Tomorrow: The Economics of Tennessee’s Child Care Crisis’ report Thursday
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new report says childcare is a growing crisis for families in Tennessee, and costs taxpayers, parents, and businesses in Shelby County about $422.5 million each year.

The group Tennessee for Quality Early Education (TQEE) released its ‘Workforce of Today and Tomorrow: The Economics of Tennessee’s Child Care Crisis’ report Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022. It said inadequate childcare in the state adds up to $2.6 billion in lost earnings and revenue each year.

Looking deeper into the issue in Shelby County, the report said 55% of parents with children under 6 reported ‘employment disruptions’ due to childcare issues. 34% reported quitting or being fired, and 34% reported having to turn down a job offer or promotion. 37% said they reduced their work hours from full to part-time or were prevented from going full-time due to the issue. And 23% said they had to stop looking for a job at all because they did not have adequate childcare.

The report said 59% of Shelby County parents reported affordability as an issue, with the average annual costs of childcare running $10,000 to $11,000 each year for infants and toddlers. The group said 51% also cited finding quality childcare as an issue.

TQEE said for employers in Shelby County, the issue led to losses of $84.6 million due to lower productivity, increased hiring and retention costs, and lost profits. And the group said that in turn reduced tax revenues by about $67.5 million per year.

The group said issues with childcare not only impact families, but also contributes to a workforce shortage in the state.

“There’s no denying that we are facing a childcare crisis here in Tennessee and across the country, and this report shines a light on just how dire the situation is for working families, businesses and our economy,” said Blair Taylor, president and CEO of TQEE, in a news release. “Our current childcare system needs an overhaul. It’s our intent for this report to serve as a call to action for collaborative problem-solving by state government and the private sector.”

“Delivering high-quality child care is an essential and powerful strategy for growing our workforce of today and tomorrow in Memphis and Tennessee," said Ted Townsend, president & CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. "Adults should not have to choose between work and giving their children the foundation of care they need to excel in school and beyond. We are proud to co-sponsor this report, which makes it clear that businesses, families, and policymakers must come to the table to solve this crucial issue."

TQEE worked with Zogby Analytics and economist Clive Belfield, and surveyed working parents with children under age 6, to find out how they are impacted by childcare. Reports can be viewed at tqee.org/2022-child-care-study/.

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