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More than half of employees say child care plays a key role in their decision to work in Montgomery County, a new survey finds.
The preliminary findings are part of a countywide study by the task force examining the local child care landscape and the challenges parents face to find quality providers.
“We have many parents who are struggling, sometimes on a day-to-day basis, on who’s going to care for their child or how they’re going to get them where they need to be for this child care. And then when you know that parents are struggling with that, you know they can’t be at peak performance at work,” said Kelly Taylor, executive director of the Montgomery County Community Foundation, which co-funded the study.
The survey finds 45% of employees cannot work more hours due to child care issues and 38% have missed work. Just over 1,000 employees participated in the survey.
Among local companies, 81 percent said employees are unable to focus at work, are late or miss work due to child-care related issues. A majority of employers said they believed child care was an important factor in their employees’ decision to live or work in the county, and that scheduling was the biggest roadblock to finding providers.
About three in 10 employers said they offer dependent care or flexible spending accounts.
Unstable child care costs Montgomery County $7.9 million each year due to employee absences and turnover, according to a 2018 study from the Public Policy Institute at Indiana University and Early Learning Indiana, an advocacy group.
“Our children’s safety is… first and foremost priority, but then the quality of education that they get in the child care establishment is so important and we don’t even see that as an immediate impact,” said Pace Dairy site leader Tracy Mobley, a task force member.
Task force members gathered at Fusion 54 Thursday to watch a live stream of the Early Learning Summit for Economic Development in Fort Wayne, where northeast Indiana business leaders discussed how companies are responding to the child care needs of employees.
Some of the policies offered by companies include infant care tuition assistance, up to 16 weeks of paid child care leave, preparing take-home meals for co-workers with children and flexible scheduling.
The task force is expected to publicly release its own recommendations in January.