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Nixon announces funding for early childhood education

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon announced $400,000 in money for renovations at the Jefferson City Day Care Center today as part of a larger announcement across the state that will provide money to 10 early childhood education projects in Missouri.

Nixon told reporters that, through the Missouri Smart Start Initiative, The Missouri Department of Economic Development would authorize $200,000 in Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) tax credits to provide a total of $400,000 in funding to assist in the renovations of the Jefferson City, Mo., facility.

“I can say that all the evidence shows that a child prepared for school by the time they reach kindergarten has a much better chance as success,” Nixon says during his announcement. “So spending this money isn’t just spending it, this is an investment in the economic development of the state.”

Early childhood education funds and grants are now dispersed through the DED and not the Department of Social Services, a move that early childhood advocate Erin Bower says reflects the message of advocates around the country.

“We’ve been trying to communicate with people that this is a jobs and economics issue,” Bower says. “Educating our children early on creates better citizens with a greater chance of success, and it’s a tool for growth. I’m very pleased the governor is taking this same approach.”

Early childhood centers receiving funds applied through the Missouri Smart Start grand program, where more than $10 million has been allocated in the budget to help eligible programs acquire funds that are also matched by NAP tax credits.

Nixon says 10 winners of Missouri Smart Start grants will be announced in the coming weeks. Jefferson City Day Care Center was the third to be awarded, along with programs in Kansas City and Van Buren, Mo.