Childcare: The cornerstone of Skagit County's economic development

Childcare: The cornerstone of Skagit County's economic development Main Photo

23 Oct 2023


Childcare services play a pivotal role in the economic landscape of any region, and Skagit County, Washington, is no exception. As parents juggle work and family responsibilities, the availability and affordability of childcare services have far-reaching implications for the local workforce and the broader economy. In a recent discussion with Aaron Weinberg, the Economic Development Manager - Strategic Projects at EDASC, we gained valuable insights into how childcare services directly impact the local labor market, the strategic initiatives undertaken by EDASC to address childcare needs, and the data-driven approach to understanding the economic impact of childcare services in Skagit County.

Childcare and Workforce Participation

Weinberg underscores the profound impact of childcare on workforce participation. He emphasizes that childcare services are the mainstay that enables parents to join and remain in the workforce, contributing to the community's prosperity. “When these services are either inadequate or inaccessible, it results in decreased workforce participation, lower productivity, increased absenteeism, and difficulties in retaining and attracting talent. What's particularly noteworthy is that the shortage of affordable childcare disproportionately affects women and the Latino community, underscoring the importance of addressing this issue,” he said..

Strategies and Initiatives by EDASC

To tackle the childcare challenge in Skagit County, EDASC has taken proactive steps. In June, they organized the "Child Care for Employers: Options for Workforce Retention and Recruitment" event. This gathering brought together speakers from the Center for Retention and Expansion for Child Care (C-RECC) to present data vividly illustrating the pressing need for childcare services for families in Skagit County. The target audience for this event was local businesses, recognizing that employers play a pivotal role in supporting their employees' childcare needs.

During the event, solutions were presented to help businesses navigate the childcare dilemma, benefiting employers and employees. EDASC is also partnering with Skagit County and C-RECC to conduct a comprehensive childcare needs assessments for businesses and their employees. These assessments aim to identify the gaps in childcare services and lay the groundwork for strategic interventions to enhance workforce participation, productivity, and overall economic development.

Data-Driven Insights on Economic Impact

EDASC's approach to addressing childcare challenges is grounded in data and research. Weinberg says, “The economic implications of childcare services are significant, as only 12.64% of the childcare need in Skagit County is currently met, and the number of licensed providers is declining. Childcare is scarce and expensive, with the cost of one month of infant care in 2022 amounting to 25% of the county's median income.”

These stark statistics underscore the urgent need to bolster childcare services. In collaboration with EDASC, Skagit County relies on many data sources, including information from the state Department of Commerce and federal data, to inform their strategies and initiatives. By quantifying the economic impact of childcare services, EDASC is better equipped to make policy and investment decisions that foster economic development in Skagit County.

Childcare services are the cornerstone of Skagit County's economic development. As highlighted by Aaron Weinberg, their availability and affordability directly influence workforce participation, productivity, and talent retention. Its strategic initiatives and data-driven approach demonstrates EDASC's commitment to addressing this challenge. Recognizing the profound impact of childcare on the local economy, Skagit County is poised to strengthen its workforce, empower families, and pave the way for a more prosperous future. Would you like to learn more? Contact us here.