Local leaders are coming together to try and solve the childcare crisis.

They said it’s a deepening crisis that is driven by extremely low wages and is causing a historic labor shortage.

State lawmakers and community leaders gathered for a roundtable discussion with a focus on the childcare crisis and how to solve it.

There were also reports that detail the scope and impact of the crisis both statewide and locally.

According to ReadyNation, gaps in the state’s childcare system are costing families, taxpayers and employers about $6.65 billion annually in lost earnings, productivity and tax revenue.

Low wages are creating a historic labor shortage.

“That is impacting not only childcare teachers but when there are no childcare teachers, it impacts working families that need childcare that go off to work at hotels, amusement parks and our factories. Childcare is the workforce behind the workforce,” said Steve Doster, ReadyNation.

Doster said there are actions the private sector can take and there are policy changes that can emerge from these conversations.

“That is why we are thrilled to be joined by state lawmakers and June is of course budget month in Harrisburg, and we are looking for state lawmakers to invest in the childcare workforce by increasing the wages for childcare teachers across the commonwealth,” Doster added.

Michelle Harkins with Early Connections said there are over 1,700 children in Erie County on a waitlist and added they need more childcare staff.

“They are paid at such a low wage and it’s hard to find someone that would want to work at the center, so we are trying to come up with solutions to try and bring the wages of our childcare workers up. They deserve it — they are taking care of children’s lives every day and need to be supported,” said Harkins.

According to ReadyNation, 56% of Pennsylvania parents surveyed report being late for work due to childcare struggles.