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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana’s losing three-billion dollars a year because it doesn’t have enough child care. That’s the finding of an Indiana University study.

The study calculates businesses bleed one-point-eight-billion dollars through lost productivity, or through the cost of extra help to cover for employees who miss work or quit their jobs entirely to deal with child care. The wages those absent employees lose drains another billion dollars out of the economy, and costs the state about 100-million dollars in tax revenue.

Early Learning Indiana, which paid for the Public Policy Institute study, has been leading the push for state-funded preschool — the group says every dollar spent on quality preschool saves three times as much later in special ed and remedial classes. But C-E-O Maureen Weber says the study is the first look at how a lack of child care for even younger kids sucks money out of the economy right now. 

The study suggests legislators create tax breaks for donations to fund new day care centers, and calls for permission for local tax referenda for cities or school districts who want to open their own child care. But Weber says businesses could also pool their resources to create their own child care centers. And she says some states have generated money for child care facilities by floating private bonds, with investors getting repaid if the facilities succeed.

(Photo: Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)