A recent report from the NC Chamber Foundation indicates that thousands of North Carolinians are leaving the workforce, forgoing professional advancement, losing work hours, or passing on work-related education or training because of the lack of affordable quality childcare. In addition, we’ve all heard presentation after presentation about how workforce availability is a key component in business location and expansion decisions.
But how often do we see these two issues discussed as a related pair?
Why aren’t more local governments directly addressing the childcare crisis?
We know it’s a hard business to be in. It’s a lot easier to print economic development brochures or commission another study on strategy, or to send people to conferences, or even to give out incentives.
If childcare wasn’t a hard business then we wouldn’t have this problem. And there’s always a desire to avoid competing with private business already in the community. But if the existing business aren’t filling the need, and if addressing the need would help the local economy, why not spend your local money on that?
And if you’re worried about legal authority for something like this, there are plenty of tools under existing law once you’ve decided it’s what you want to do – don’t use “the law” as an excuse. No one is saying it’s easy or cheap, but we are here to say that it could have a quick and direct impact on workforce availability and quality.