Childcare and Economic Development

29 Mar 2023


Childcare is vital to local economies more than many realize. “Nebraskans know it takes a lot of different elements to make a vibrant, sustainable community. That includes housing, transportation, utilities, healthcare, education, public safety, commercial and financial services, and many other factors. Each of these factors is dependent on the others. Take even one away, and this complex infrastructure will begin to fray, then fail. 

But where does quality childcare fit in? Reliable, quality childcare connects to every part of a functioning community.  It encourages young families to put down roots, generates local revenue, and supports critical services and systems our hometowns need to thrive. Best of all, it grows the quality of life that make Nebraska a great place to live, work, and raise a family. We can grow a greater Nebraska. That means, making childcare a key strategy for building strong communities,” - First Five Nebraska.

Communities for Kids

The Communities for Kids (C4K) program is “a community-based initiative designed to assist in the development of right-sized solutions for communities selected to participate in the program.” In October, we shared information regarding our need and acceptance into the program. In November, we shared information regarding the grant recipients. Since then, more data detailing the dire need for childcare in Gage County was gathered. 

Gage County’s Economic Impact

“The first years of a child’s life are a period of rapid brain development, deeply influenced by early experiences, interactions, and environments,” - First Five Nebraska. By December 2022, the number of Gage County children under age 6 not enrolled in a privately licensed or public preschool equaled 381. This means, where homeschooling is not a factor, many of Gage County’s young, impressionable, newly forming minds are not being properly educated. 

In August 2020, First Five Nebraska published a blog referencing findings from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln’s Bureau of Business Research, Final Report - The Bottom Line: Economic Impacts of Inadequate Child Care Access in Nebraska. The numbers were astounding, yet gave an extremely visual representation of the importance of childcare within the state. 

There is a direct, monetary disadvantage between personal income and business-related costs when childcare is lacking. Economist, Dr. Melissa Trueblood, followed the Final Report design and created a Gage County-specific version. Based on her report:

  • Able-bodied parents unable to work and provide for their families suffer $3.9M of annual personal income.
  • Businesses needing to cover working parents that take time off to care for their children cost an annual $1.9M in additional expenses. 
  • Taxable retail sales for 2021 were only 19.36%, due to household incomes being unable to afford non-motor vehicle retail purchases. This estimates roughly a $0.8M reduction in retail sales.

If you were wondering if childcare really matters when it comes to community sustainability and the overall betterment of people? Wonder no more! Childcare and economic development go hand-in-hand.