Childcare Task Force Gains Legislative Support

GIC Childcare Task Force has sought and gained the support of two critical members of our state legislative delegation, Representatives Jeff Bradley and Shannon Erickson. They are enthused about the possibility of improving childcare in South Carolina, and our demonstration project proposal. They want to meet with colleagues in a few other critical locations around the state to determine whether there are the means and political will to implement our Tri-Share funding initiative in more than one location from the outset.  We are in the process of refining our materials to be of best use to Jeff and Shannon in moving this initiative forward.


South Carolina is experiencing a childcare crisis that is estimated to have an adverse $1.4 billion annual economic impact on the state.  Perhaps more importantly, only 36% of South Carolina children arrive at kindergarten ready to handle their initial learning experience.  Childcare is broken in our state, indeed, in our country.  State Senator Ross Turner and state Chamber of Commerce president Bob Morgan recently made this point when they joined to report childcare as being in crisis, with serious adverse effects on businesses within the state. (The State, Jan. 14, 2024,  

GIC leaders decided to see if we could do something to improve the situation. We joined with The Children’s Center to establish The Childcare Task Force. The Children’s Center is a major childcare facility on the north end of the Island established by a number of visionary islanders including David Ames and former GIC member Dick Wiles. The Children’s Center aims to support working-class families, most of whom are employed on the Island.

We are working in partnership with The Children’s Center to demonstrate a new business model for funding childcare. It is called Tri-Share and will have participating parents pay 50% of their child’s tuition, about $6,500 per year. Participating employers would pay 25%, and the state would pay 25%, about $3,250 each.

The Children’s Center has a physical plant able to handle enrollment in excess of 200 children, but because of the same issues adversely affecting childcare generally, they are only able to support enrollment of 100 children. Putting that unused capacity to use became our initial focus. The problem, as is the case with so many things, is money and where to get it. The true cost of providing quality childcare is about $13,000 per year per child. Working-class parents, particularly those in the hospitality industry, are strained to pay half that amount.

We don’t see this new model as the be-all-and-end-all. Rather, it is something to be added to the current childcare funding mix. Large employers like Boeing, BMW, and Michelin have the ability to provide on-site childcare to their employees if they choose. This model is intended to help small and mid-size businesses who have operating revenues that will allow them to contribute about $1.50 per hour in support of their employee’s child.

This model for funding childcare has the potential to be another factor distinguishing South Carolina as the preeminent place to operate a business. Childcare funded in the manner we are pursuing may give South Carolina an even greater competitive advantage in attracting and retaining businesses. We envision increased employee loyalty enabling businesses to lessen the expense of recruiting, hiring, and training replacements.

Informal polling of business leaders on the Island revealed that many will support the Tri-Share initiative provided matching funds from the state becomes available. We are seeking that funding and have made requests to Director Michelle Bowers of the Department of Social Services and Secretary of Commerce Harry M. Lightsey. We have sought the support as well of our state legislative delegation, Rep. Jeff Bradley, Rep. Shannon Erickson, and Sen. Tom Davis.

Making Childcare Work White Paper: Prepared for legislators to explain the Tri-Share program and to gain their support, click here.

Why It Matters to Your ROI White Paper: Prepared specifically for employers to explain the Tri-Share program and to gain their support, click here.