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Champion of Children Profiles

The goal of the Missouri Champion of Children campaign is to develop stakeholder, community, and constituent engagement to facilitate connections in their communities, foster collaboration on early childhood programs and education issues, and acknowledge their dedication to Missouri’s youngest children.

Niadu Allen

After the death of my daughter in June 2021, I became the legal guardian of my 4 grandchildren. I was unaware of the shortage of early childhood educators, as well as the lack of funding. I knew I needed to participate by using my voice and story for the importance of ECE!

Grandma/Caregiver of Four, St. Louis, MO

Anissa Parra-Grooms

Quality, affordable childcare is NOT in abundance. The community does not rally behind ECE - even when science says the first five years are key to everything.

Mom of One, Kansas City, MO

Cortaiga Collins

We are advocating for the equitable, accessible & affordable childcare system the children and families in our state deserve.

ECE Provider, St. Louis & Warrenton, MO

Kayla Marmaud

I knew my family couldn’t be alone in the struggle of finding quality child care.

Mom of Two, St. Joseph, MO

Kelly Raines

I feel I need to advocate because I have talked to many families and heard their stories of not being able to find the care they want for their children. I have also seen way too many caregivers give up a job they love so that they can support their families. It is a broken system and needs to be fixed. Our children, families and caregivers deserve better than what we have now.

ECE Provider, Kansas City, MO

Courtney Leader

My daughter has complex medical needs… they had no way of accommodating her needs in the 4 and 5 year old classroom, and no exceptions to be made anywhere federally.

Mom of Four, Springfield, MO

Betty Dudley

I truly believe that providers are the key in communicating the needs of the community to legislators.

ECE Provider, Columbia, MO

Tiffany Brinton

Missouri should invest more in early education because it is the foundation for our young people to be successful in the future

ECE Provider, St. Joseph, MO


  • Increase pay for classroom teachers and aides
  • Receive payments for families receiving subsidies
  • Incentives for quality improvement
  • Build programs’ business capacity
  • Peer networks or shared services

the workforce challenge


average industry
turnover rate
before Covid


of workforce lost during Covid


is the national median hourly wage of child-care workers

“My staff doesn’t get paid like real teachers, but they are lesson planning, learning about growth and development, all of those things. It’s a real job and something that society needs but doesn’t value.”

Nicci Redcoat
A Place to Grow
Holts Summit, MO