New report highlights the business case for corporate investment in early childhood development

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The Global Business Coalition for Education offers a roadmap for businesses to support early education — for greater social and financial impact

Businesses are the key to long-term equality in early education — by supporting working parents, boosting economies and training a workforce for good jobs. That’s the conclusion of a new report by the nonprofit Global Business Coalition for Education.

The report comes as childcare across the U.S. is in crisis: Last month, $4.1 billion in childcare stabilization funds from the American Rescue Plan expired, leading to predictions of staff shortages and closures of day care centers and preschools.

The report, “The Business Case for Investment in the Early Years,” urges companies to support the youngest children, to reduce inequality and promote economic growth. The report offers a step-by-step map to build momentum across businesses, consumers and government for the early years.

“When young children suffer, businesses lose valuable employees, economies lose productivity and tax revenues fall,” said Justin van Fleet, executive director of the Global Business Coalition for Education, which is committed to ending the global education crisis. “Even as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance faces political headwinds, stakeholders are demanding that businesses achieve better financial and social outcomes.”

He added: “This groundbreaking report shows the urgency of the crisis for all of us: executives, employees, investors and taxpayers.”

Drawing on two decades of workplace research, the report shows the effects of the childcare crisis on employees. Today, more than a quarter of parents in the U.S. say they have quit a job or dropped out of their studies to avoid childcare costs, according to a survey commissioned for the report. In the U.S., this crisis costs $122 billion a year in lost earnings, productivity and tax revenue.

The report offers hope, showing successful childcare interventions that are helping to narrow the wide gaps in outcomes between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds while allowing more women to participate in the workforce.

“There’s irrefutable evidence that investing in the early years is critical to a child’s lifelong success,” said Sarah Brown, executive chair of the Global Business Coalition for Education. “Yet care and education for young children receives low levels of investment from governments around the world. As parents are increasingly forced to carry the burden of early care and education, businesses have a unique opportunity to introduce programs and policies to improve productivity and retention.”

The recommendations are guided by the four World Economic Forum Stakeholder Capitalism themes — People, Prosperity, Planet, and Principles of Governance. In addition to childcare, the report shows innovative examples from companies around the world that are investing in the early years through results-based financing, toy recycling programs and other innovative strategies.

Citing the research, the Global Business Coalition for Education and the global charity Theirworld have urged government and businesses leaders around the world to join a campaign called #ActForEarlyYears, to prioritize investing in the health and education of young children.

“Solutions exist to improve the livelihood and life trajectories of children under five – and so do the resources,” said van Fleet. “We’re missing an across-the-board commitment to the early years.”

About The Global Business Coalition for Education: For more than a decade, we’ve harnessed the power of business, government, international organizations, nonprofits and youth to ensure every child has access to free, equitable and inclusive education. Most recently, our group worked with HP and Microsoft to deliver 70,000 laptops and other devices to children displaced in Ukraine and forced to become refugees abroad amid Russia’s war against the country.

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