Quality child care helps children, businesses and cities in Texas, says the mayor of Fort Worth

U.S. businesses are losing billions every year because workers do not have enough access to child care, officials said at the third annual address on early childhood education on Thursday.

Access to high-quality early childhood education is important because it directly affects the business community, parents and children, said Dale Petroski, president and CEO of the Dallas Regional Chamber.

Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker, who was the keynote speaker at the event, stressed that adequate and affordable childcare is important for communities so that business and the economy can thrive. And early childhood education is key to helping children succeed later in life, she added.

But not everyone can afford high-quality preschool or child care or have it nearby. And this means that companies across the country lose about $ 13 billion a year in costs due to lack of child care.

Parker shared her own experience, noting that attending her daughter’s college at Texas Tech University is cheaper than attending a Montessori school for her 4-year-old.

“It’s an incredibly exhausting price for American families, and unfortunately it’s not getting much better,” Parker said.

While business suffers, children also suffer.

Research shows that about 90% of brain development occurs before the age of 5, and that getting a high-quality education early is more effective than any other intervention by schools or society later in a child’s life.

What businesses can do to help

Private sector businesses can pursue family-friendly policies, Parker said.

The chamber recognized 109 companies in the Dallas region that have implemented family benefits and policies. (The Dallas Regional Chamber is a supporter of the educational laboratory at The Dallas Morning News.)

Such policies that companies can implement to help parents include on-site childcare, flexible working hours, teleworking and maternity leave. Chamber officials noted that research shows that 35% of Texas workers who have or plan to quit their jobs cite childcare problems as the main cause.

“We need great childcare where our children can be stimulated so that parents can go to work, feeling reassured that their children are getting good care and education at the same time,” Petroski said.

Why invest in early education?

Making the Dallas region the best place to live, work and do business begins with providing quality education to provide a strong workforce, Petroski said.

“We need talented workers who are well educated and trained to do the work that needs to be done here so that we can continue to grow,” he said. “On the other hand, everyone deserves a chance for a good education, a good job and a good life.”

For every dollar invested in early education, the return on investment is between $ 7 and $ 12, Parker said.

Parker added that the United States spends about $ 500 per child to educate children under the age of five. But $ 14,000 is spent on a kindergarten student in high school. In contrast, Norway spends about $ 30,000 per child to educate those under 5, while Germany spends about $ 20,000, she said.

“So honestly, our investment just doesn’t make sense,” Parker said.

High-quality early childhood education goes beyond day care to include learning opportunities, which means investing in quality instructors, she said.

“Usually the women who work in our daycare centers – who take care of your babies and my babies – who are high-quality childcare educators, do less than the cashier at Buc-ee in this country,” she said. “We can do better than that.”

Change in the Dallas area

While the private sector needs to do its part, local authorities can also help, Parker said.

For example, in May, Taranto County commissioners approved $ 45 million in federal funds to support child care and long-term investment in early childhood education across the community.

“It can be transformative, and it will be transformative in Taranto County,” Parker said.

Leaders at Fort Worth, Arlington and Taranto County have previously earmarked $ 2 million in this federal pandemic aid to increase educators’ pay for child care.

These efforts coincide with others in investing in holistic approaches to expanding access to childcare.

“The future of the American dream and our success depends on how we treat our youngest and most vulnerable,” Parker said.

The DMN Educational Laboratory deepens coverage and discussion of urgent educational issues that are critical to the future of North Texas.

DMN Education Lab is a community-funded journalism initiative supported by The Beck Group, Bobby and Lottye Lyle, Texas Community Foundation, The Dallas Foundation, Dallas Regional Chamber, Deedie Rose, Garrett and Cecilia Boone, The Meadows Foundation, Solutions Journalism Network, Southern Methodist University, Todd Williams Family Foundation, and the University of Texas at Dallas. The Dallas Morning News retains full editorial control of the Education Lab’s journalism.

Leave a Comment