The Johnson County Community Foundation is shifting its focus to one of the county’s most pressing workforce issues — childcare.
A broad community engagement initiative will examine many facets surrounding local children and where they go when their parents work, foundation leaders announced Wednesday. According to Brighter Futures Indiana Data Center, there are approximately 12,000 children in Johnson County between the ages of zero to 5 and data shows over two-thirds (or 68%) of their parents work.
The community foundation wants to look at questions such as kindergarten preparation for those children, parents not working due to a lack of affordable and available childcare, and the accessibility, affordability and quality of childcare in Johnson County.
“About four years ago we engaged with the community and heard that employers were struggling with hiring and retaining a workforce. Through that engagement process, we launched the Johnson County Employer Resource Network to help connect employees to community resources. We are looking for that next community issue we can help address in a collaborative manner and know that there is something innovative in childcare we could do differently and better through this opportunity,” said Kim Kasting, president and CEO of the Johnson County Community Foundation.
The Johnson County Community Foundation has collaborated with Transform Consulting Group to help identify childcare needs and opportunities in the county.
Research has shown that when childcare is unstable for parents, it’s not just the families who suffer — their employers struggle as well. A 2016 report titled “The Economic Impacts of Investing in Early Childhood Education in Indiana” estimated that for every dollar invested in early childhood education, the return on investment can be $4 to $15 due to the lower special education costs, retention costs, reduced cost for social issues such as teen pregnancy and homelessness, an increase in post-secondary attainment and lower crime costs.
According to research, 45% of parents are absent from work at least once due to childcare issues, and 65% of parents’ work schedules are affected by childcare challenges an average of 7.5 times. Childcare challenges cost employers in the United States an estimated $3 billion annually.
Those are the numbers that spoke to the community leaders when they convened to explore Lilly Endowment’s GIFT VIII community leadership grant opportunity. The committee is gathering feedback from the community and looking at promising models to strengthen childcare for families and the workforce, while working to engage a diverse group of community stakeholders. They need community participation to do so.
Officials want to hear from families, businesses, and childcare providers in Johnson County to understand better what actions might best help residents and employers. They’re asking that residents share thoughts.
A survey for families can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JohnsonCountyFamilySurvey.
A survey for employers can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JohnsonCountyEmployerSurvey.
A survey for all levels of childcare and preschool providers can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JohnsonCountyProviderSurvey.
Responses will remain confidential. The survey should take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses should be submitted by Feb. 21.