Governor Mike Parson receives more praise for his efforts to combat child care-related issues plaguing the state. Earlier this month, Parson was applauded for the funding included in this year’s budget from the Missouri General Assembly. Childcare was one of the Governor’s top priorities at the beginning of this year. Many legislators also made childcare their top priority this session.
For the past couple of years, Missouri has suffered greatly from a multitude of child care-related issues. In 2021 the Missouri Chamber of Commerce released a report detailing some of these issues and their effects on the state. The report found that child care gaps cost Missouri’s economy $1.35 billion each year. It also found that 61% of parents reported missing work due to child care issues in the past 3 months when the survey was taken.
The budget included $78 million to support low-income, working families in accessing child care, $56 million for grants to public schools to provide high-quality pre-K education $26 million for grants to childcare facilities to provide high-quality pre-K education
On top of the increase in funding, the rates of reimbursement are also being changed. The new rates will result in an average increase of 44% for care provided to infants and toddlers, 51% for care provided to children in preschool, and 69% for care provided to school-aged children from the rates in effect just one year ago.
The reimbursement rate increase will help tackle the rapid closures of childcare centers that Missouri saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, one-third of child care centers closed and many are still struggling to reopen or stay open.
Child care advocates think this rate increase and its applications are steps in the right direction for solving the childcare crisis in the state.
“Missouri’s ongoing childcare crisis has had an incredibly harmful impact on children, families, businesses and our economy. The leadership of Governor Parson and his Administration, with the support of countless members of the Missouri General Assembly, made this historic rate increase possible,” Kids Win Missouri Executive Director Brian Schmidt said. “We are encouraged by these bold initiatives to support Missouri children and will continue to work with lawmakers, child care providers and families to ensure Missouri kids get the resources they need to succeed.”
Chil dcare providers are also hopeful about the new funding and reimbursement rates.
“This necessary investment will make an indelible impact on my program and my ability to continue to provide access to high quality care to the children and families we serve. The additional funds will allow me to duly compensate my staff and make investments in my program that will contribute to the academic and developmental success of our students,” said Cortaiga Collins, owner of Good Shepherd Infant and Toddler Center in North St. Louis and Good Shepherd West in Warrenton. “I feel empowered to make quality improvements to my program that were previously out of reach. Although there is still great work to do, this effort is a monumental step in the right direction, and children and families will reap the benefits for years to come.”
The reimbursement rate change will be effective immediately.