Press "Enter" to skip to content

Opinion: This is how we move the needle for our workforce of tomorrow

Recently, Governor Mike Parson made history in Missouri by signing the largest increase in state funding for early childhood education. By approving a $82 million increase in funding for pre-Kindergarten education, Parson made a significant down payment towards a generational investment to benefit our earliest learners.

The Governor approved House Bill 2, which includes more than $26 million for community-based child care providers and House Bill 20, which allocates more than $55 million for pre-K grants to districts and charter schools for 4-year-olds.

We cannot understate the magnitude of this meaningful win for the Show-Me State’s children.

Power through Partnership

I am proud of the role Aligned played in partnering with the Governor, key business leaders and policymakers within the Missouri legislature that led to this capstone moment of historical funding. For the past 10 plus years, our organization has been in our state capitol advocating to increase access for high-quality early childhood education for all Missouri children. With this additional funding, education leaders have the resources needed to deliver quality pre-K programs to children with the greatest need.

Harry S. Truman once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” It’s through our partnerships with Kids Win Missouri and the Children’s Trust Fund and the collaborative spirit of our entire advocacy community that provided the fuel to drive this effort forward.

Return On Investment

Well-designed and implemented early childhood programs can improve the lives of children and their families. Governor Parson has said, “If we are to truly make a difference, it starts with early childhood education.”

Our work and experience indicate that increasing funding and access to high-quality pre-K programs creates thousands of new seats for 3- and 4-year-olds. Research shows the remarkable impact of early childhood programming on a student. In just one year, one of our partners notes teachers producing classrooms where 90% of children are Kindergarten ready. With the increased funding the legislature approved this year, this success is something we could see transcend statewide.

Education is the most important economic development tool we have. We are committed to continuous improvement in our state’s education system and we’re relentless in this effort. We want every student prepared.

Having this immense impact on a child’s life is of extreme importance, especially for children in underserved communities.

Looking Ahead

We must now turn our focus on making sure this funding gets into the hands of the early childhood professionals who partner with families to care for and educate the next generation of Missouri children. These additional resources will be available for the 2023/24 school year for child care providers, districts and charter schools. Contact the Office of Childhood within the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for more details on to access the grant funds.

The Workforce of Tomorrow

The future success of students, businesses and communities depends on the strategic investments we make today. To change the trajectory of a student’s academic life and career, we must continue to focus our efforts on early childhood education. This win for Missouri’s children is a great start and will propel the state towards a well-educated and qualified workforce.