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Small Businesses Face Barriers to Affordable Child Care, Support Expanded Access

Publisher: 
Small Business Majority
Date: 
Monday, 25 September, 2017

Small business owners know how important it is to retain a productive and talented workforce. Lack of access to affordable child care, however, is hurting small businesses and their workforce by increasing absenteeism and decreasing productivity. It should come as no surprise then that new scientific opinion polling found small businesses support expanding federal programs to help low- and moderate-income families afford child care, and that many small business owners themselves struggled to access affordable child care.

A national scientific opinion poll conducted August 14-16, 2017 for Small Business Majority by Public Policy Polling found that among small business owners who are parents (nearly 9 in 10 respondents), more than 1 in 3 (36%) say a lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care was a barrier to starting their business. Conversely, nearly 3 in 10 small business owners with children (29%) stated that lack of access to child care was a major reason for starting their own business due to the need for increased flexibility in their work schedules. Both findings show that access to child care is a key consideration and challenge for our nation’s entrepreneurs as they launch their businesses.

Additionally, small business owners support policies that would help more working parents afford child care, understanding this is essential to retaining a skilled workforce. A strong majority of small business owners (56%) support policies that would provide direct federal assistance on a sliding scale to help low- and middle-income families afford child care. Currently, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) provides help paying for child care to low- and lower-moderate income families. However, because of inadequate funding, CCDBG and related federal programs only reach 1 in 6 eligible children. In addition, families that do not owe federal income tax because their income is too low are ineligible for the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit (CDCTC). The survey found 7 in 10 small business owners support expanding and improving federal income tax credits for child care expenses that would allow for working parents to receive a percentage of child care expenses back as a tax refund.

Key Findings

More than one-third of small business owners with children report that lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care was a barrier to starting their business: Nearly 9 in 10 respondents (88%) are parents. Among those small business owners who have children, 36% reported that not having access to child care was initially a barrier to starting their business. 

Lack of access to affordable, high-quality child care was a reason for nearly 3 in 10 business owners with children to start their own business to take advantage of improved flexibility and control over their schedule. Thirty-four percent of women small business owners cited child care issues as a reason for starting their business, compared to 24% of male small business owners. 

A strong majority of small businesses support direct federal assistance on a sliding scale to help low- and moderate-income families afford child care: 56% of small business owners support policies that would provide direct assistance to help their employees access affordable, high-quality child care. 

Small employers support additional policies that would expand access to affordable child care: 7 in 10 small business owners support expanding and improving federal child care tax credits to allow working parents to get the credit back as a tax refund. 

Employees’ struggles with child care is impacting small businesses’ productivity: More than 3 in 10 employers report that employees’ family and child care issues have affected their job performance or productivity. Additionally, 32% have had employees request changes to their work schedules, and 4 in 10 report they’ve had an employee experience unplanned work absences in the past year due to child care issues.

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