(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today delivered opening remarks at a hearing to examine the urgent need to address America’s broken child care business model, not just for families but for providers, employees and the economy.

Watch Chair Shaheen’s opening statement here.

Read Chair Shaheen’s opening statement, as delivered, below.

Today, the committee is going to examine the urgent need to address America’s broken child care business model.

In my home state of New Hampshire, an estimated 73 percent of families need child care, yet it remains unaffordable for far too many families. The average yearly cost for center-based infant care topped $15,000 in 2022.

This forces an estimated 16,500 Granite Staters each month to sit out of the labor force. That results in lost economic activity for both the state and for individual families; and in a state where our unemployment rate has been below three percent for several years now, that takes a huge bite out of the workforce we need to keep businesses operating.

The child care shortage now costs America $122 billion a year in lost wages, productivity and revenue, and families are losing $78 billion a year in the time that it takes to search for work and lost earnings.

Families across America are relying on us to help child care providers stay open and provide affordable care options.

In the United States, most child care businesses operate on less than 1 percent profit margin, and they all have to thread a very delicate balance between charging families enough to operate, but not too much, so that they can afford a spot.

This business model not only affects small business child care owners, but also their employees, as child care workers are chronically underpaid. There are only ten states where the median child care worker’s salary offers them a living wage, and many states fall far too short of that standard.

Now, to put that in perspective, and I know we’re preaching to the choir here, particularly among our witnesses, but the average hourly wage of a fast-food worker in 2022 was 11 cents higher than that of a child care worker.

Yesterday, the Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy group, released the results of a survey of small business owners across the nation, where almost 60% report a lack of access to child care as an impediment to their business growth.

Right now, the repercussions of the child care crisis are being felt across every sector of our economy. We need to act swiftly to stabilize the child care industry.

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and with that, I will yield to Ranking Member Ernst for her opening statement.