FLORIDA POLITICS: Mark Wilson: Working to make Florida even more competitive — addressing early learning & child care crisis

By January 17, 2024 News
For people who want to work, Florida should be the best place on earth.

Florida needs to create 1.21 million new jobs by 2030 and child care concerns are being addressed by legislative leaders in Florida.

According to Untapped Potential in FLa 2023 report by the Florida Chamber Foundation and the National Chamber Foundation, nearly $5.4 billion in economic value is lost annually in Florida due to working parents having to be away from their jobs to care for children under the age of six.

In fact, the report found that the lack of access to child care was the leading reason parents with young children left their jobs in the 12 months before the Chamber’s research.

The report revealed that Florida is missing out on $911 million annually in tax revenue due to child care challenges with affordability and accessibility. child care-related employee turnover and absenteeism costs Florida job creators $3.47 billion per year.

In fact, 64% of parents with young children missed work or school at least once in the past three months for childcare-related reasons.

Poor quality and inaccessible child care impacts more than just our current workforce. Making investments in our early learners supports the Florida Chamber’s 2030 Blueprint goals of ensuring that 100% of our children are entering kindergarten prepared, 100% are reading at grade level by third grade, and are equipped to pursue academic success.

That is why the Florida Chamber Foundation created the Florida Business Alliance for Early Learning Project which is working to raise awareness around the importance of investing early in Florida’s youngest learners.

State and federal child care programs exist to alleviate some of this burden financially, but many families are ineligible for these programs. Even those who do qualify face challenges finding available providers due to burdensome regulations that are completely unrelated to quality and safety and inadequate reimbursement rates.

Florida’s School Readiness Program offers financial assistance for child care to working parents or parents pursuing an education who are earning at or below 150% of the federal poverty line.

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