Study shows childcare demand is high in Utah

Nov 3, 2023, 9:00 PM

Childcare needs Utah...

The Utah Women & Leadership Project released new research looking at the need for childcare solutions in Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Women & Leadership Project has released new research into how the status of childcare in Utah has changed since 2018 when they first issued the report and what troubles lie ahead.

In the report, the UWLP notes that in recent years, continued market failures and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have “exacerbated the financial challenges of childcare business owners and their employees.” The report also concluded the pandemic increased the number of obstacles parents face trying to work outside the home. 

Dr. Robyn C. Blackburn, Research Fellow for the Utah Women & Leadership Project, spoke to KSL at Night about the report.

Childcare demand is high

According to Robyn, Utah ranks high compared to other states when it comes to demand for childcare.

“64.1% of families in Utah have all available parents working, which means 64% of families in Utah need childcare.”

Utah has the highest percentage of children compared to any state in the nation, with 30% of Utah’s population falling under that category. 

Robyn said federal funding has helped make childcare affordable and accessible for many Utahns. However, Utahns could face a crisis in 2024 when funding that came from the pandemic crisis comes to an end. 

According to the report, Utah ranked number 48 on the Child Care Index and 50 in the Work and Family category. Robyn explained that the wage gap between men and women contributes to the ranking. 

“A part of that is that we have a large wage gap here in Utah, so comparing men’s medium wages to women’s medium wages, we have a large wage gap that contributes to being 50 in those categories,” she said. 

Another issue in Utah is childcare deserts.

“These are places all over the nation that don’t have access to adequate childcare. Way more kids needing childcare than actually are able to get it,” Robyn said.

What can be done?

This problem affects more than just families with children. The report mentions an estimated $1.4 billion is lost annually from Utah’s economy due to childcare inadequacies. 

“We’re losing out on having an even better economy and having even better rankings and all these things because we haven’t addressed the needs in our childcare sector.” Robyn later continued, “If we have these [problems) in other areas, we would be addressing them with like, such rigor.”

Robyn said Utah’s legislation could be a solution to this problem. In the 2023 Legislative session, multiple childcare bills failed to pass.

“We need all of our legislation to realize that this impacts women, it impacts families, and it impacts our state economy. And when all of our legislators recognize that, when they look at those women who are marching and saying, ‘We want child care for our state.'”

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Study shows childcare demand is high in Utah