The cost of providing child care benefits to employees — like stipends and onsite day care — is an investment with outsized returns, finds an intriguing new study from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and nonprofit Moms First.

Why it matters: The increasing cost of child care in the U.S., along with a shortage of providers, keeps parents out of the workforce — a drag on the economy overall and a hit to employers in a tight labor market.

The big picture: These benefits are gaining more attention, particularly in the wake of the pullback of pandemic-era child care funding — but they’re still pretty rare.

  • 12% of workers in the U.S. have access to child care benefits from an employer — a number that falls to 6% for part-timers and those in the lowest income quartile, per BCG.
  • Yet those are the workers who typically lose out on pay because of a child care emergency.

What they found: For every $1 spent on child care benefits, employers saw a net gain of between $0.90 and $4.25 through reduced absenteeism, less lateness, and lower rates of attrition.

  • The study debunks the idea that child care is a cost center. “These benefits pay for themselves,” the authors write.

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