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Kids in child care. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

New Missouri budget includes funds to address state’s child care problems

The Missouri budget recently signed by Gov. Mike Parson includes significant increases to help families with child care expenses. A 2021 report from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce found that child care gaps cost Missouri’s economy $1.35 billion each year. It also found that 61 percent of parents reported missing work because of child care issues during the previous three months.

The budget includes $78 million to help low-income working families access child care; $56 million for grants to public schools to provide high-quality pre-K education; and $26 million for grants to child care facilities to provide high-quality pre-K education. Reimbursement rates also are being changed. The new rates will result in an average increase of 44 percent for care provided to infants and toddlers, 51 percent for care provided to children in preschool and 69 percent for care provided to school-aged children.

“Missouri’s ongoing childcare crisis has had an incredibly harmful impact on children, families, businesses and our economy,” said Brian Schmidt, executive director of Kids Win Missouri. “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.”

Care providers also are 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,” said Cortaiga Collins, owner of Good Shepherd Infant and Toddler Center in North St. Louis. “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 is effective immediately.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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