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April 14, 2021

Survey: Pandemic driving changes in employee child care needs, employer accommodations

Photo | Contributed Pre-pandemic, children attend a program run by Enfield nonprofit Educational Resources for Children.

Difficulties securing reliable, quality child care are weighing on Connecticut workers and employers, compromising productivity and creating new challenges around recruitment and retention, according to the results of a new study.

A survey of business leaders produced by several education- and business-centered groups, including the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, found that, while child care issues are not widespread throughout the state’s workforce, they create serious disruptions for some working parents.

About 76% of employers said child care problems negatively impact up to 20% of their staff, while 17% put that figure between 20% and 40%.

Only 2% of respondents said child care needs create problems for over 60% of employees, likely a reflection of the overall age of Connecticut’s working population.

Still, the survey found that securing care for children attending school remotely, along with the affordability of such care, remain major obstacles for a share of adults with young children.

"Over the past year, many employees across Connecticut had to not only adapt to remote work, but also manage childcare and remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic," said CBIA President and CEO Chris DiPentima. “Workforce recruitment and retention have been and remain one of the biggest challenges for employers, so support and resources are critical. We cannot rebuild Connecticut from the pandemic without addressing working parent needs.”

Some employers say they have adapted to the times by giving workers increased flexibility.

About a quarter of respondents said they allow employees to work from home so they can be with their children, and 19% said they have reduced hours for working parents.

Around 24% of employers said their existing company policies, such as flexible hours, remote work, and dependent care deductions from payroll, were effective in addressing child care issues.

More employers would be willing to help, the study found, if the government provided some form of assistance, or if particularly valuable employees needed accommodations.

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