By: Sarah Katherine Massey, Director of Talent, Education & Quality of Life Policy, Florida Chamber of Commerce
The Florida Chamber Foundation partnered with the National Chamber Foundation to release the Untapped Potential in FL report in September, a study highlighting the widespread need for accessible and affordable childcare across Florida. The Florida Chamber of Commerce has long understood the role that childcare plays as a barrier to employment and economic prosperity and has advocated for strategies that align with meeting the Florida 2030 Blueprint goals aimed at creating a pathway to prosperity for all of Florida’s zip codes.
Affordable childcare is essential to supporting the workforce of today and vital to developing our workforce of tomorrow. A lack of affordable, quality childcare makes it difficult for parents trying to enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce. There are working parents who struggle to balance home, childcare and work, children who miss valuable educational opportunities, childcare providers who are fighting to stay open and serve their communities, and employers wondering how to attract employees with children to work.
The Untapped Potential in FL report found that 64 percent of parents of young children missed work or class at least once in the past three months for childcare-related reasons and that 15 percent of parents left a job in the past six months due to childcare issues. The economic impact that childcare issues have on our state is an astounding annual loss of $5.38 billion.
During the 2023 legislative session, the Florida Chamber of Commerce team advocated for SB 990/HB 1021, by Senator Erin Grall and Representative Fiona McFarland, to address the lack of affordable childcare in Florida. SB 990/HB 1021 would have incentivized employers to assist with the burdensome cost of childcare by offering tax credits in exchange for covering childcare costs. Under this bill, businesses could also earn tax credits by establishing and operating childcare facilities for their employees. Finally, SB 990/ HB 1021 addressed regulatory compliance measures that do not necessarily improve the quality of the childcare facility but can limit the availability of seats and increase costs for providers.
While SB 990/ HB 1021 did not make it across the finish line, the Florida Chamber of Commerce team will be utilizing the Untapped Potential in FL report in the upcoming session to advocate for childcare and early learning policies that help minimize barriers to employment and incentivize employers to be a part of the solution.
To learn more about future efforts to positively impact childcare, early learning and the path to prosperity in Florida, contact Sarah Katherine Massey at 850-545-0543 or email@example.com.