BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL)- The STRONG Accountable Care Community is a collection of 300 partner organizations that work together to create a stronger future for children. Regional leaders met at the first Childcare Summit event to discuss solutions to the childcare crisis.
Mark Cruise, Director of the STRONG Accountable Care Community (ACC), told News Channel 11 about the goal of the event.
“Our hope is that by bringing groups together from across sectors, we can really take a fresh look at the system that exists now and really look at new and creative ways that we can provide childcare,” said Cruise.
The crisis is not just about unaffordable childcare.
“The triple bottom line of childcare is that it really impacts our families’ ability to earn a living for their families,” said Blair Taylor, CEO of Tennesseans for Quality Early Education. “It impacts our businesses, workforce participation and productivity, which impacts business revenues.”
According to a Virginia poll taken last year on behalf of the Virginia Promise Partnership, 83% of parents said childcare programs are too expensive, and 48% of parents said their job is currently being negatively impacted by a lack of access to childcare.
“This is for the benefit of working families who need affordable, accessible, quality child care,” said Cruise. “But it’s also for the benefit of employers who are looking to build and retain a vibrant workforce that includes access to quality childcare.”
Those participating in the summit said the issue of parents being unable to afford childcare results in fewer people working in daycare and early childhood education centers.
“We actually have had classrooms close, we’ve had childcare centers shut down,” said Cruise. “We’ve had childcare workers leaving the workforce because the system is broken, and it’s our job today to begin to look at ways that we can fix that broken system.”
Cruise said with the results from the meeting the committee of STRONG ACC can begin to chart a road map that will help create a solution to the childcare crisis.