Cost, hours among parents’ top considerations

Although local parents and employers face challenges regarding access and affordability of childcare, Wayne County leaders believe there’s momentum toward addressing them.

Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County and Forward Wayne County have released the results of their recent employer childcare survey that aims to discover local needs.

Eighteen employers across the county participated, representing sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, education, financial services and government.

Participants submitted 276 responses.

“We embarked on this survey to gain insights into the challenges that our workforce has with finding suitable childcare, and now we must shift to finding and connecting available resources to eliminate those barriers,” said Valerie Shaffer, EDC president, in a news release.

Here are a few of the results:

  • Nearly 59% surveyed who have young children rely on a friend or family member or another household to meet their current care needs.
  • Having an informal level of care available means 26.6% of workers elect to leave the job to stay home when care is not available, and another 12% reduce their work hours when they can’t find caregivers. 44.4% seek care from a relative or friend; 13.5% seek an alternative shift or schedule; and 3.5% find other alternatives.
  • Significant days of work were missed due to childcare challenges: 31.3% missed 1-5 days last year, 7.7% missed 6-10 days, 2.6% missed 11-15 days, and 1.8% missed 16 or more days.
  • Childcare was participants’ second-highest preference for employee benefits, behind college/university tuition support. Lower priorities were life insurance, vacation/paid time off, retirement and health insurance.

Purdue Center for Regional Development helped create the aggregated report.

“The results have given these local employers some things to think about,” said Acacia St. John, FWC program director, in the release. “We’ve encouraged them to do some internal work, to connect with other local employers doing innovative work, and to stay engaged in the conversation with us.”

Some suggestions for area employers include:

  • Determining if care subsidies can be offered
  • Determining if they need more information on vouchers
  • Asking EDC or FWC to connect them with other employers that have successfully subsidized care
  • Buying standing seats at local childcare centers so they’re available for your workforce, and/or donating money so they can increase wages and retain staff, making seats available

Officials from EDC and FWC would like to reconvene employer roundtables in the next quarter.

Shaffer said the local report is timely and falls right in line with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s 2023 Next Level Agenda.

Holcomb announced earlier this month that the Family and Social Services Administration will use $25 million in federal funds to develop an innovative grant program to encourage employer-sponsored childcare to provide more onsite options for working caregivers.

Local childcare survey results at a glance

Highlights from a survey conducted by Forward Wayne County and Economic Development Corp. of Wayne County include:

  • When asked how much they are willing to pay for childcare, 74.8% are only willing to pay $150 or less per child per week ($7,800 annually). Survey participants’ annual household incomes were $30,000 or less (8.9%); $30,001-$50,000 (24%); $50,001-$70,000 (24%); $70,001-$90,000 (11.8%); $90,001-$150,000 (28%); $150,000-plus, (9.2%).
  • Only 4.7% currently use Child Care Development Fund vouchers to subsidize their care costs. Survey organizers are unclear if such low usage is tied to ineligibility or lack of program awareness.
  • Childcare support ranked No. 2 among desired employee benefits.
  • Half of respondents either have childcare needs now or will need it in the future. Most only have 1-2 children.
  • Nearly 59% rely on a friend, relative or another household to meet their current care needs.
  • When they don’t have care, 26.6% of workers elect to leave a job to stay home.
  • 31.3% missed 1-5 days in the past year because of childcare issues.
  • Most workers need care on weekdays, with only 1.4% requiring care on Sunday and 1.7% on Saturday.
  • First shift is the mostly needed time, with 48.6% needing help from 1–6 p.m. and 46.8% between 6 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The report can be seen at

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Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.