Many of us share a common aspiration to secure a brighter future for our children, fueled by our yearning to see them happy, loved and prosperous. But what do we mean when we say a ‘better future’ for them? Is it the best possible education? Is it a good job or good money? Or is it encouraging them not to repeat our mistakes?
One barrier to a better future is a deeply-rooted, complex problem — unaffordable and inaccessible childcare. Childcare is often viewed as a family or personal concern, yet its significance extends to our economy’s health and regional culture. Businesses may not directly see the connection, yet feel the effects and pivotal role of workforce shortages, difficulty recruiting and retaining talent, and decreased productivity.
We may understand that the scarcity of childcare options makes it challenging for parents to find affordable and reliable care for children, forcing parents to choose between work and caregiving. Yet, we may need to see the consequences of the shortage of work-willing parents in the workforce that disrupt economic productivity and the resulting deficit leading to high employee turnover as unstable childcare arrangements compel workers to change jobs or leave the workforce altogether. This impacts businesses and families, and reduces overall economic well-being. Poor-quality early childcare compounds the issue by hindering children’s future learning capabilities, leading to a shortage of skilled workers capable of adapting to transformational skills and technology. This, in turn, makes our region less attractive to potential corporate investors, hampering economic growth and societal progress.
What would it take to make a difference?
A small team of lifelong educators and committed community members, Allie Sutherland, Northeast Indiana Regional Early Childcare Coalition, Jennifer Hunter of Gensyn Design, and Sherry Grate, Ambassador Enterprises, asked two questions regarding the stress that unaffordable and inaccessible childcare places on parents and families: 1) Why is the solution to this problem so elusive and; 2) How is northeast Indiana uniquely positioned to address this challenge with our region’s emphasis on family values, community dedication and faith-based culture?
They discovered that several northeast Indiana counties had already experienced some success by tailoring childcare needs to specific community populations. Yet, counties continued to face resistance to recognizing that childcare is a complex, collective issue, not solely an individual or family problem, but a mutual responsibility.
Ambassador Enterprises and the Northeast Regional Chamber commissioned a research study through Thomas P. Miller and Associates to support the effort. “The Childcare Challenge: Impact, Cost, and Opportunity in Northeast Indiana” analyzed the potential impact of an expanded childcare program in northeast Indiana. The report indicates that the Labor Force Participation Rate is “perhaps the best measure of a region’s economic vitality,” the impact extends beyond lost wages and earnings to include low productivity, lagging sales, and lost revenue for the region and state.
Report findings have helped leverage data and opportunities at the regional level, catalyze conversations, and identify and grow partnerships. By the end of 2023, each county will have infrastructure in place through a regional coalition and a recognized leader. Sutherland says, “The complexity and interconnectivity of this challenge requires voices and commitment beyond educators and parents. This challenge requires sincere collaboration, interdependence and mutual trust working toward a common goal.”
Investing in our future. Looking beyond today.
Leaving a legacy transcends financial gain; it embodies a vision for the future rooted in a genuine concern for the well-being of others and your community, guided by a higher purpose and a better tomorrow.
Ambassador Enterprises recognizes that when parents and families prosper, so does the workforce, the community, the customer base and market opportunities for economic growth. A thriving community is essential for the long-term success of all our businesses.
Please join this initiative by keeping your mind and heart open to a role you and your business can play in supporting innovative childcare solutions in northeast Indiana.
Pictured: Representatives of the Northeast Indiana Regional Early Childcare Coalition (left to right): Kathleen Alter, Ruthie Hall, Sherry Grate, Jami Hubbard, Tammy Pifer, Allie Sutherland, Doug Clark, Jenna Anderson, Courtney Bonbrake, Carmyn Hottell, Colton Bickel, Sherry Searles
Address: 11020 Diebold Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46845
Phone: (260) 487-4000