Affordability is one of the most common barriers to childcare for families, and consequently, a barrier to work. In fact, a 2020 survey of 1,000 working parents showed that 73 percent were considering making major changes at work.
Through vouchers or subsidies, employers can help offset the cost of care and incentivize higher quality options. Vouchers can be given directly to employer-approved childcare providers or working parents, giving them control over where to send their children. Subsidies enable employers to reserve spots for their employees in nearby childcare programs, and employers can help offset the cost of care if they choose to.
The cost of offering vouchers is directly proportional to the size of the need. This option improves overall access to conveniently located and high-quality childcare. The availability of providers depends on the location, and the voucher system is subject to union and labor environment complexities.
What You Can Do
Assess the current need
Learn the childcare options your working parents currently use and why. Identify your working parents and talk directly to them to get their input. Get clear on the metrics and desired outcomes and how you will gather and assess data.
Check childcare voucher and subsidy regulations
Your employees (especially lower wage earners) might qualify for existing childcare assistance. Learn about what the State of Michigan offers.
Understand your options
Vouchers align with employee choice and offer a flexible disbursement structure. Subsidies offset the cost of care in addition to reserving slots. Both improve access and can come with tax incentives for your business. Understand the local childcare options, and use referral agencies to connect you to all the licensed providers in your area. Consider leveraging vouchers and subsidies to incentivize quality childcare options and maximize your investment.
Decide and implement
Determine if your organization will reserve slots for guaranteed access to nearby care for your employees, help offset the cost of care, or offer vouchers directly to employees.
Create a communications plan that clarifies the value to employees at all levels. Explain the rationale for your choices.
Track the impact
Gather data on utilization, solicit feedback from working parents, and assess the impact on recruitment, retention, and absenteeism.