In Childcare, Quality Jobs

Balancing a career and raising children can be challenging for parents. Childcare is not only expensive but is often difficult to find. This forces parents to take time and attention away from their jobs. Parents in this situation need flexibility and will benefit from active communication with their employer on childcare policies and their needs. 

In its 2023 study, ReadyNation found that the nation’s childcare crisis has resulted in $122 billion in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue. This is more than double the $57 billion identified in 2018 by the same report. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed more than 120,000 Americans missed work in 2024 due to childcare responsibilities. This often impacts women disproportionately with 75% of working mothers losing job opportunities due to childcare needs according to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation. 

According to Sarah Wells, author of “Go Ask Your Mothers: One Simple Step for Managers to Support Working Moms for Team Success,” the first step is acknowledging that parenthood means change. Understand that your employees are changed people. Their priorities and needs have been permanently impacted. This understanding sets the basis for all decisions going forward.  

While fixing the institutional issues surrounding childcare is a massive undertaking, there are steps companies can take to support their employees. 

Parents need flexibility in their schedules. When possible, allow parents to schedule their work around the needs of their children for things such as school drop off/pick up and medical appointments. Allow remote work options when possible. Ensure your employees know this flexibility will not negatively impact their careers.  

According to Wells, parents cited lack of communication as the root of many workplace stresses as they strive to balance caring for their children and their careers. Have conversations with your employees so you can fully understand what they need and how you can help them. Starting a parents’ group could be a good way to start these conversations. Let parents get together and share their experiences. Strongly consider their suggestions for what would make the workplace more friendly for them. 

Knowing what your employees need, you can then create an action plan to support them. There are resources that can help you! Take advantage of the resources listed below and collaborate with your colleagues to see how they approach the issue. 

 A few things your company can do to get started: 

  •  The Washington Department of Commerce Family-Friendly Workplace Program offers no-cost consulting to employers to help you consider, assess and implement family-friendly employment policies and practices in your workplace. 
  • Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) outlines ways you can support employees who are parents and caregivers in our Quality Jobs Comprehensive Benefits guide. Some of the strategies in this guide include improving paid time off policies and allowing flexibility to accommodate unplanned emergencies such as picking a sick child up from school. Refer to the guide for additional strategies that support employees’ well-being and family. 
  • Consider providing pre-tax dependent care spending accounts or subsidies to your employees. 
  • Offer employees on-site childcare or seek opportunities to pool resources with a neighboring business. 
  • Provide referrals to resources  
  • WorkSource can help eligible parents with childcare-related costs. Contact WorkSource Program Supervisor, Heather Fox, at or 360.735.5005 for program eligibility. 
  • Search for Childcare Aware resources by state at  

The childcare crisis solutions extend beyond what one person or company can do. However, taking the initiative to understand parents and be flexible with their needs can go a long way to retaining your valued employees. 

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