Phoenix/ Family & Kids
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Published on April 03, 2024
Arizona Families Hit with Child Care Costs as Economy Feels $1.7 Billion Sting, Solutions EmergeSource: Unsplash / CDC

In the desert of rising childcare costs, Arizona families are getting burned. A recent analysis from LendingTree highlights that families across the state are doling out nearly a fifth of their income just to keep their kids in care. That's an average of 18.6% of their paycheck, each week. But it's not just family budgets crying out for relief; the Arizona economy is also feeling the pinch to the tune of $1.7 billion annually.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, side by side with the Arizona Chamber Foundation, has exposed the harsh reality—childcare issues are shaving off a hefty $1.77 billion from the state's economy yearly. One could easily wonder if companies not offering childcare assistance simply ignore potential profits. "People can’t show up to work. They’re picking between being a parent and being an employee," Danny Seiden, President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, told 12 News.

On a wider scope, LendingTree's mud-slinging report unveils the nationwide struggle as well. From Nevada's high-rollers spending over 32% of their income on child care to Iowa's more manageable 10%, the dilemma is as diverse as it is widespread. Matt Schulz, LendingTree's chief credit analyst, comments on the surging childcare costs, "The cost of everything is rising... When all those costs shoot up, the overall cost of child care does, too," as reported by LendingTree.

Back in Arizona, companies like Intel and Amazon are trying to feverishly combat the losses by providing childcare perks for their workers. But so long as child care is still pinned as a social rather than an economic issue, the daycare dollar drain continues. "We still see childcare as a social issue and not an economic issue," Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Moms First, declared in an interview with 12 News. "To me, it’s of the same importance as AI, right, we need to put the same amount of investment into it."

While the problem looms large, some Arizona organizations are stepping up. The Valley of the Sun YMCA introduced free child care for its staff, with an eye-opening result of employee retention skyrocketing by about 28%. For parents like Ally Lowe, this has been a game-changer. Lowe, who has seen the punishing costs of child care in previous jobs, now works at the Lincoln Downtown YMCA where free child care for her two daughters allows her "to support myself and not be struggling to make ends meet," she shared in a statement obtained by 12 News.

As these numbers underscore, child care isn't an expense tucked away in family budgets—it's a glaring line item on America's economic spreadsheet. As both a social and economic crisis, child care demands not only the attention of policymakers but also a firm resolve by the business sector to invest in the well-being of its workforce and, by extension, the broader economy.