Nonprofit Spotlight: The Children’s Cabinet offers early education and care in Nevada | nnbusinessview.com

Nonprofit Spotlight: The Children’s Cabinet offers early education and care in Nevada

The Children's Cabinet sponsors this content

Throughout our early childhood programming at The Children's Cabinet, there is one consistent fact we strive to make widely known—90% of brain development happens during the first five years of life. Early experiences (prenatal through age five) affect brain development and lay the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health.

Positive experiences provide a strong foundation while adverse childhood experiences create a fragile foundation with effects that can last throughout adulthood. High quality early learning experiences, both at home and in early learning programs, support children's development and are critical for children to build a strong foundation for a healthy, happy life.

Source: C.A. Nelson (2000). Courtesy: Harvard Center on the Developing Child

But many Nevada families have a common concern: accessible, quality care for their young children while they work. For parents, the overwhelming task of arranging child care creates stress and potentially affects productivity, work attitudes, absenteeism, longevity, and a number of other critical areas impacting employee performance.

This is why at The Children's Cabinet, we believe that all families should have access to affordable, high-quality early learning opportunities and feel confident in childcare options.

The need for early education and care outside the home is a reality for 65% of Nevada's children under the age of 6 and 70% of children ages 6-12 years old. These 456,275 children live in households where all available parents are in the workforce.

Of the 209,643 children under the age of 6 that need care, Nevada's early childhood programs (licensed child care and district PreK programs) only have the capacity to serve 23% of all children and 35% of those living in households with both parents in the workforce.

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A recent Children's Cabinet client survey of Nevada parents revealed that 57% of parents cannot find an opening for their child, emphasizing the need for additional capacity. 86% of the survey respondents reported that finding dependable childcare was a necessity in order to go to work.

The cost of child care is a significant financial challenge for parents, especially low-income parents. The same Children's Cabinet survey found that for 76% of parents, cost was the primary barrier to finding care for their children.

This is not surprising as the median cost of center-based care for infants in Nevada is $11,137 per year, which represents 31% of median income for single mothers and 20% of income for married-couple families. This exceeds the annual cost of tuition and fees at the University of Nevada, Reno or University of Nevada, Las Vegas by 30% per year.

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Although the cost of care is high, the wages of early learning professionals are low. The median wage of an early childhood teacher working in a licensed setting in Nevada is $11.50 an hour — $23,920 per year. This is $11,003 less than Nevada's median income for workers ($34,923). Furthermore, the average wage for a child care center director is $19.20 an hour.

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This low wage makes it difficult to recruit and retain a skilled workforce and undermines quality that is so critical for children's development. To this end, 23% of center-based staff leave their positions every year, which has huge implications for the continuity of care our children receive.

According to the National Survey of Early Care and Education, 97% of center-based early childhood teaching staff are women — many of whom earn such low wages that they quality for public benefits. These low wages make it difficult for them to care for their own families and undermines wellness.

Research from the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment found that mental health issues that are associated with income and lack of access to supports, such as stress and depression, also influence the quality of care adults provide. As a society, we must take better care of the adults who care for our children. Our working parents today and the competitive workforce of tomorrow depend on it.

The Children's Cabinet collaborates with partners statewide to improve Nevada's early childhood system. Businesses can play an important role in both strengthening the system and supporting their employees. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation calls high-quality early childhood education "The Bedrock of American Business."

They recognize that the lack of affordable, quality child care creates a significant barrier for talented, working parents. Businesses that take an active role in helping their employees secure quality childcare see increased workforce participation and increased revenue. To this point, the Foundation states that turnover due to a lack of child care costs businesses 20% of an hourly employee's salary and up to 150% of a manager's salary. Absenteeism as a result of child care breakdowns costs U.S. businesses $3 billion in revenue lost annually.

To find out more on how your business can support your employees and strengthen your bottom line, or a full breakdown of childcare affordability in Nevada by county, visit resources for employers on our website or call The Children's Cabinet at 775-856-6200.

This article was written by Marty Elquist, Supporting Early Education & Development Department Director at The Children's Cabinet, a Reno-based nonprofit that sponsors this content.