The Case for Childcare: Exploring the business case for care


  • Community-centered research
  • Cross-sector workshops
  • Actionable recommendations
  • Events
  • Actionable insights

The problem

The United States childcare sector has a broken business model where no one is winning. Parents alone cannot shoulder the high costs of childcare, early childhood educators and childcare workers are deeply underpaid and undervalued, and many geographic regions face a lack of accessible care options. This issue disproportionately affects women, particularly BIPOC women, and frontline working families who often hold down hourly, shift, or gig jobs. If you speak with anyone who has a child 0-5  in America today, you’ll know – we are in a childcare crisis.

Mothers and women have traditionally shouldered the burden of unpaid caregiving responsibilities and are often the first to leave the workforce when family demands arise. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed this disproportionate burden on women when a surge of 2 million women were forced to leave the workforce in 2020, mainly due to a lack of affordable and accessible childcare. This significant exodus of women workers is not just a problem for these women and their families — it is a problem for the business community and the U.S. economy’s overall growth.

Sources: Brookings, SHRM, US Chamber of Commerce

Notable stats

$3 billion

Annual revenue lost due to employee absenteeism as the result of childcare breakdowns (US Chamber of Commerce Foundation)

$840 billion

Dollars of lost economic output with muted participation from women in the workforce (Mom’s First)


Reduction in child care workers today in the United States than pre-pandemic (Brookings)


The rate at which women without college degrees left work compared to college graduates (NYT)

About the Collaborative

In 2022, NationSwell launched the Case for Childcare Collaborative, dedicated to making the business case for supporting working families, the childcare economy, and early childhood education. For Phase 1, in partnership with American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, Annie E. Casey Foundation, National Domestic Workers Alliance, Pivotal Ventures, and Working for Women, our Collaborative gathered first-hand insights from cross-sector leaders and looked at secondary research to understand the widespread challenges and opportunities when it comes to making the business case for childcare. This work culminated  in the recent launch of the Case for Childcare microsite that shows employers the benefits and opportunities when their companies champion childcare and support working families. 

Phase two

In this next phase, our Collaborative is focused on employer childcare benefits that will support frontline, part-time, hourly, and gig workers — those traditionally excluded from benefits reserved for full-time, salaried workers. In partnership with American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, NationSwell is forming an intimate cohort of employers & advocates building childcare solutions to explore how companies can better support frontline working caregivers and families. We look forward to sharing insights in the coming year. 

Ultimately, we believe employers have an important role to play in the child care movement for all workers. We believe that care workers, early childhood educators, families, and working parents everywhere deserve more when it comes to access to family-sustaining wages, paid parental leave, and public support, like universal early childhood education.  Get involved here.

Our collaborative model

Starting in Fall 2022, our Case for Childcare Collaborative engaged in a few key workstreams:

  • Landscape research on public and private policies and the business case for childcare
  • 15+ conversations with leading experts actively working at the forefront of the childcare movement including from 9to5, The Mom Project, Mom’s First, The Raising Child Care Fund,  Ohio State University, Barnard College,, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and many more
  • Two curated convenings that engaged over 40+ participants from the nonprofit, private, and public sectors on the topics of Understanding the Benefits & Barriers for Businesses to Support Working Families and the Care Economy & Preparing for Action through Cross-Sector Collaboration on our Roadmap for Change 
  • Design sessions with Collaborative partners to identify an activation of our work that fills white space in the care movement and would leverage our unique assets.
  • Built and designed an interactive microsite for employers to understand the business opportunity in providing childcare support.

The microsite

In February of 2024, NationSwell launched the Case for Childcare Collaborative microsite, showcasing the big picture of the childcare crisis, interactive stories to explore the challenges of working parents today, and case studies & solutions for employers to implement. We invite you to engage with the data and content, and to share widely with your networks.

Take action

Join the Collaborative
Learn more