A strong Miami-Dade economy requires investment in quality child care | Opinion


Miami-Dade County is at a crossroads, struggling with affordability that has far-reaching consequences for working families and employers. The high cost of living has led to slight wage increases that often still fall significantly short of covering essential needs. Accepting the much-needed increases forces families to make tough choices as they risk losing eligibility for social safety net services and leaves employers struggling with labor shortages. This situation has become increasingly common and is known as a fiscal or benefits cliff.

High-quality child care is one of the most expensive costs for families. Research consistently demonstrates that high-quality early learning experience in child care profoundly impacts a child’s life long academic performance. Children who receive quality care are more likely to excel in school, achieve higher test scores, and less likely to drop out. The importance of investing in the earliest years of a child’s life cannot be overstated; it lays the foundation for future success and societal contributions.

Safe and high-quality care is also indispensable to support the current workforce. The fiscal cliff has forced some families to choose child care options based only on affordability and convenience, rather than quality. This jeopardizes children’s access to high-quality early learning opportunities or keeps families from thriving financially. Our community’s families deserve both high quality child care and higher wages.

A recent report by the Florida Chamber Foundation sheds light on the magnitude of the problem. According to the “Untapped Potential” report, insufficient child care costs Florida $5.38 billion annually. Additionally, child care related employee turnover and absenteeism cost Florida employers another $3.47 billion each year. This is not merely a financial burden; it is a restraint on the potential of future generations and a significant obstacle to the growth of Miami-Dade’s economy.

We are grateful that many members of the Florida Legislature have recognized this situation’s urgency and introduced an unprecedented number of early learning bills this legislative session. These bills signify a commitment to providing equitable and successful beginnings, so that every child is ready for kindergarten. Moreover, legislation has been proposed to expand intervention services, identifying roadblocks to future learning early enough to prevent common challenges in K-12. At the same time, bill proponents actively seek solutions to offset the fiscal cliff for families, fostering a stable transition to economic independence and sustainability.


The Miami-Dade Legislative Delegation members support these bills and have shown their commitment to advocating for children, families, and employers. Through collaboration with public-private partners, these legislators spearhead policy changes that promise to impact and strengthen the community positively.

The Miami-Dade County Fiscal Cliff Collaborative, a group that convenes quarterly, is actively finding tangible solutions to this community challenge. Recognizing that employee retention is essential for economic stability, the Collaborative partners are addressing the fiscal cliff issue and facilitating programs that provide families with the support they need to thrive.

The imminent solutions posed by members of our Legislature have the potential to make a lasting positive impact on both our families and our local economy. We must continue to work together, leveraging the momentum generated by the legislative efforts, to strengthen our community further.

Supporting solutions to Miami-Dade’s child care challenges is not just a moral imperative; it is an economic necessity. By investing in high-quality child care we are investing in the workforce of today and tomorrow. The legislative initiatives underway offer a solution, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that these efforts result in tangible, transformative change for Miami-Dade County.

Miami-Dade County Fiscal Cliff Collaborative Members include: CareerSource South Florida, Coalition of Miami-Dade County Chambers of Commerce, Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Greater Miami of Chamber of Commerce, Health Foundation of South FL, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami-Dade Beacon Council, The Children’s Movement of Florida, The Children’s Trust, United Way Miami, YWCA South Florida.

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