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Promoting Access to Affordable, Quality Childcare

Child Care Answers is working to increase access to high-quality childcare for families, providers, the community, and employers in Indiana.

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On average, the cost of care for families to send their child to a high-quality provider in Indiana is more than $10,000 per child, per year. This is the equivalent to one year’s tuition at an Indiana state university.


workdays missed per employee, per year due to childcare issues

The Challenge

Lack of affordable, available childcare significantly impacts the bottom line of businesses and the economy. Indiana businesses spend nearly $1.8 billion annually to pay wages of absent employees, for overtime and temporary workers, and for costs associated with reduced productivity due to issues stemming from inadequate child care for employees’ children, according to the 2018 study Lost Opportunities: The Impact of Inadequate Child Care on Indiana Workforce & Economy conducted by Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute.  These same issues also create issues for employers who are aiming to recruit and retain quality talent, which is why a focus on employee benefits is so important.  Overall, Indiana’s economy loses nearly $1.1 billion annually as a result of reduced consumer spending, income and job loss, and the ripple effects of the lack of child care. This equates to a $118.8 million annual tax revenue loss for the state.

Employees’ day-to-day work life impacts their ability to efficiently contribute at work, due to struggles with childcare. Working parents of children under six, on average, miss 13.3 days each year due to child care issues. Roughly 11,000 working parents quit their jobs annually to address child care concerns. When at work, 64% of U.S. parents worry about their child’s safety every minute of the day. Employees distracted by unreliable caregivers or their child’s well-being can’t fully focus on the job-at-hand.

The Solution

As Central Indiana’s local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency, Child Care Answers (CCA) is in a unique position to respond directly to these challenges. Child Care Answers seeks to educate on the nature and benefits of high-quality childcare while also addressing significant problems with access to and affordability of high-quality childcare. Their audiences span the breadth of those affected: families, childcare providers, the community-at-large, and employers and businesses. Through this work, CCA aims to increase the demand for and supply of high quality childcare in central Indiana.

Over the past year, Child Care Answers has been able to tap into an untouched opportunity to educate employers on the challenges that lack of affordable and available child care presents, not only to their employees but also to their bottom line. Many employers are unaware of the problem or the free services like Child Care Answers to help them address it. CCA instituted a structured outreach process to build relationship with employers, referred to as the Support, Education, Empowering, Advocating (SEEA) process consisting of four key components for engaging employers: support for those seeking resources, education on the workforce impact of a lack of childcare, empowering employers to take action on developing childcare solutions for employees, and advocating for employers to serve as models for early childhood education for their peers.

The Direct Impact on Providers and Quality Childcare

Childcare providers, who are also business owners, can often barely scrape by, which has only been exacerbated by the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of childcare for families is exorbitant, despite razor thin profit margins for childcare providers. While they provide quality care for our smallest children, early childhood educators often can’t afford childcare of their own and struggle to make ends meet with some of the lowest wages in the in workforce.

Key Partnerships

CCA has built meaningful public and private partnerships to further create solutions for childcare access. Engaging local chambers of commerce and employers has successfully led to increased understanding and participation from many in the business community already facing workforce challenges due to lack of childcare for employees. CCA has also connected with policymakers to educate them on the importance and urgency of childcare and coordinated with early learning education partners to collaborate on how best to provide options for childcare services in Indiana.

There were many outstanding partners that contributed to the success of engaging businesses and policymakers on the topic of family-friendly policy implementation and in the development of the Central Indiana Alliance for Working Families.

Partnerships include:

Brownsburg Chamber of Commerce
Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY)
The Children’s Bureau of Plainfield, IN
The Children’s Bureau of Indianapolis, IN
One Zone of Hamilton County
United Way of Central Indiana
Care Source
Pike Township Trustees Office of Indianapolis, IN
AAIM Employers Association
Conner Prairie
Dress for Success
Family Promise of Hendricks County
Hendricks County Community Foundation
Indiana Institute for Working Families
Indy Chamber

Hurdles and Lessons Learned

Prior to the pandemic, employers often viewed childcare as the parents’ problem or responsibility in the home. Because of this, many refused to recognize lack of access to and affordability of childcare as real concerns to our society or economy at large. However, due to the pandemic, and the many issues associated with the closure of schools and childcare programs, many have come to realize the reality of how necessary childcare is to our modern society.

This renewed attention to childcare will allow Child Care Answers to make inroads with many employers previously closed-off to the mission. From the start of the pandemic many businesses have been struggling just to keep their doors open. So, CCA still has a long way to go to build relationships with these companies and will continue to develop and tweak engagement strategy to ensure buy-in from these employers.


children in need of care or are in childcare environments not considered high-quality.

$1.8 Billion Each Year

Cost to Indiana businesses for childcare related absences and employee turnover


of parents are absent from work at least once due to childcare issues (Over 6 mo. period)

Is This Model Repeatable?

The work Child Care Answers has done in Central Indiana to engage businesses and policymakers is absolutely replicable. CCA takes advantage of many opportunities to collaborate and support colleagues within the Indiana CCR&R Network to share their business engagement strategy and to assist them in achieving similar success across the state. Statewide partners have expressed an appreciation for the model and are eager to replicate it in their own areas, so we know others can see similar success.

What Are the Program Results?

Employer Data Collection

Through engagement of and consultation with Central Indiana businesses, Child Care Answers continues to help employers implement surveys of their employee population. As CCA gathers data from more and more firms, they will be able to use and share it at the aggregate level to explain the impact a lack of affordable childcare is having on working families and the companies they work for.

Customer Satisfaction Surveys

In a recent survey of Child Care Answers’ community partners, participants gave Child Care Answers a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 72, which translates as “Excellent” on the NPS scale. CCA continues to gather feedback from its partners, including businesses, to better understand how to manage their new programs in ways that best meet the needs of the businesses they serve.

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