Quality child care, in a center or in a home, is a necessity for most working parents. In Kentucky, nearly 200,000 children under age six have all available parents in the labor force and potentially need ChildCare Awarechild care. Access to affordable, quality child care allows parents to remain employed, keeps children safe, and provides opportunities for enhancing development.

Child Care Aware® of America recently released a report, Parents and the High Cost of Child Care, that summarizes the cost of child care across the country, examines the importance of child care as a workforce support and as an early learning program, and explores the effect of high costs on families’ child care options.

This year’s report continues to expose child care as one of the most significant expenses in a family budget, often exceeding the cost of housing, college tuition, transportation, or food. Below are five reasons parents (as well as communities and kids) need access to affordable quality child care:

  1. Accessible quality child care keeps employees productive and helps businesses’ bottom lines

Research shows that US businesses lose an average of $4.4 billion dollars annually due to employee absenteeism as a result of child care breakdowns. Parents are best able to work when they have access to stable, high quality child care. Companies are increasingly implementing child care-friendly policies to help keep their employees productive.

  1. Child care helps parents work and pursue education

Working parents in Kentucky need the ability to support their family by working and increase their opportunities for advancement through education. Flexible, quality child care allows parents to set an example for their children by participating in the workforce and improving their education.

  1. Parents able to afford child care are more likely to stay employed

Research shows that child care assistance helps working parents experience fewer missed days, keep a consistent schedule, and remain with the same employer for a longer period of time.

  1. Quality child care increases a child’s skills and abilities at a very young age

Children who receive high quality child care show better outcomes in socio-economic and health conditions in adulthood.

  1. Quality child care increases readiness and can influence national security

Military leaders found that 75 percent of young adults are not qualified to join the military due to criminal records, physical fitness issues including obesity, and failure to graduate from high school. These leaders identified the need for access to quality early learning and care in order to address the issues that are decreasing readiness.

To find out more about the importance of access to affordable child care and how Kentucky is doing, check out the report here. Interested in advocating for increased access to child care in Kentucky? Check out the 2016 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children and attend Children’s Advocacy Day at the Capitol on January 14, 2016.