Christine Michel Carter is the only award-winning advocate helping ambitious women and badass moms have rewarding careers.

 Childcare As A Workforce Issue: Competing For Female Talent In A Tight Labor Market

Childcare Workforce 

According to a survey of 3,000 working parents conducted by LinkedIn and Censuswide.  Almost half of working moms take an extended break, time off from work beyond the maternity leave allowance after the birth of their children.  

Meanwhile, one of the biggest challenges mothers cited in the survey is an unnecessary obstacle in place, making it challenging for them to advance in their careers. And that challenge is the lack of high-quality, affordable childcare. 

High-quality childcare 

Families are struggling to find and afford high-quality childcare. Without question, childcare is often the second-largest monthly expense for families after their mortgage or rent payment.  

Nevertheless, for both children and their parents, there are benefits to early childhood education.  

  • Children gain a strong educational foundation,
  • parents can pursue careers or enhance their knowledge or vocational skills.

Iowa – American case study 

Let’s use Iowa as an American case study for this workforce issue. So, included in Iowa’s nation-leading labor force are over 300,000 working parents with children under six years old.  

Though Iowa has the highest labor force participation rate in the country and businesses, regardless of industry or location, the state is still struggling to recruit and retain skilled workers.  

In their latest report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that Iowa loses $935 million annually as a result of childcare breakdowns. 

It’s important to realize these unique challenges they face:

  • Approximately 2/3 of Iowa is rural.
  • Almost 1/3 of the state is considered a child care desert.
  • Meanwhile, rural wages are lower, but the costs for child care are not significantly lower.
  • Also, early childhood funding is in several Iowa state departments as there is not one sole Department of Early Childhood.
  • Further aggravating the issue is childcare workers are among the lowest-paid occupations when compared to all Iowa occupations.

Fortunately, the Iowa government and businesses have recognized the need to step up. At this point, they understood that it is not just a workforce issue but also an economic development opportunity. 

In addition, Universities, for and non-profit businesses, communities, and the state government have united to solve the problem as all industries in the community were expressing the need equally.  


Eventually, to create localized, innovative solutions, it took many Iowa organizations working together, not caring who the lead was.

Therefore, solutions included:

  • flexible hours for all employees,
  • professional firms allowing infants to come to work with parents,
  • sponsored paid family child care lots, and
  • 24-hour and sick child care. 

Iowa is committed to fighting the problem together 

Ultimately, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry is working with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and legislators of both parties to see additional state funding made available. Although, the Iowa state government is also seeking to solve the childcare issue through tax credits and cash support as part of a program called Future Ready Iowa. 

In short, there is not just one solution for the child care issue in Iowa or the United States. It takes multiple prongs of solutions, and they need to work together.

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