Ashley Haseltine is the Former Executive Director, Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce.
Earlier this year, REDC sat down with Ashley Haseltine, REDC CEDS Committee member, former executive director for the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce, and mother of four children. We discussed some of the issues surrounding the childcare industry in Southern NH.
REDC: In your role at the Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce, do you see a lack of childcare facilities impacting business growth or new business development?
Ashley: The lack of childcare absolutely impacts finding a potential workforce, as well as those job seekers looking for jobs or starting up a new business. I've heard from multiple business owners that they have staff or they have offers out, and the person has to turn it down because they can't find childcare that fits what they need. [Similarly] job seekers who want to make a move but can't because of those same childcare challenges. Or [when someone wants to] start a new company, sometimes childcare costs are prohibitive and a person can't make that leap to start a new company because they still need to pay for childcare at the same time.
REDC: What recommendations do you have for employers?
Ashley: I think childcare of the 2020s is so drastically different than either the 2010s or further back. And unfortunately, for a lot of employers, their reference point for childcare is from the 1980s or 1990s. So, it's important for employers to listen to those in the childcare industry to understand how to help. I think a lot of employers want to help, but they need to have a current frame of reference for what the actual challenges are and how they can help productively.
REDC: What challenges did you face when searching for childcare?
Ashley: When [my husband and I] searched for childcare, we faced a few challenges because we have more than one child. [The biggest challenges were] finding adequate space for [children in] different age groups, finding availability and time that worked for us, as well as finding reasonable cost childcare.
REDC: What factors did you consider when looking for childcare and what was most important?
Ashley: The factors we looked at were the right type of environment for our children: a safe environment that created a nurturing space, while also giving them the opportunity to grow. And it's hard to find the right fit when you have multiple children, especially with some different needs.
REDC: What did you end up doing for childcare?
Ashley: When my children were younger, we ended up finding a childcare center that could accommodate them. I have twins in my children's mix, so that's an extra level of challenge because it's two spots in one age group. When our fourth came along, we ended up shifting to a nanny because we would have spent more money on childcare with the four of them in a center than I would have made as a working mom.
REDC: Do you have advice for parents who are looking for childcare?
Ashley: I think the best advice I can give somebody looking for childcare is do your research on the childcare center, private nanny, or another service, and weigh all of the costs. What's the sick policy? What happens in snow closures? A lot of times [childcare center closures] lead to job turnover because somebody's childcare doesn't fit what their needs are for their employer.
REDC's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS)
This interview took place in March 2023 for the purpose of documenting first-hand perspectives on issues that present the largest obstacles to continued economic growth in our region. REDC's 2023 CEDS Update will be available for free electronically on our CEDS page in late June, 2023.
Part of this interview will be available to watch in a video on REDC's YouTube channel in late June, 2023.