[vc_empty_space height="-5px"]
Alienum phaedrum torquatos nec eu, vis detraxit periculis ex, nihil expetendis in mei. Mei an pericula euripidis, hinc partem. [vc_empty_space height="10px"]
[vc_empty_space height="20px"]

West Plains

West plains

Howell County is developing a child care and early education community plan. Led by Ozark Action, Inc. and a team of community stakeholders, the community is conducting research on the current child care and early education landscape, fiscal resources available, and the true cost of implementing a high-quality, child care and early education system that meets the community’s needs.

Key Findings

The number of children who need care is higher than the number of available slots. Only 23% of infants and toddlers and 61% of children ages 3-5 who are not enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten are served by existing slots.

On average, families are paying 17% or more of their income to cover the cost of care.

Current, unaffordable annual tuitions are not enough to cover the true cost of high-quality care.

Community Priorities

The Research

Child Care Is A Workforce Issue


of surveyed employers report that employees’ access to child care greatly or significantly affects their business


of surveyed employers report employees doing at least one of the following: taking time off to fill child care gaps, terminating their employment, permanently changing their work hours/availability, or temporarily changing their work hours

“Every time school is out my people can’t work because no one [is] available to leave [their] kids with. Boys and Girls Club is not open on [the] days school is out, and their summer program is booked shortly after they start taking apps.”

– West Plains Employer

Quotes and survey data are drawn from a non-representative convenience sample of Howell County parents, ECE directors and owners, and senior leaders of county employers.

Families Lack Access to Child Care

The number of children who need care is higher than the number of available slots. Infant and toddler care has the greatest gap between the availability of care and the demand for care with 551 kids who do not have a slot. Additionally, there is a 39% gap in available slots for children ages 3-5 who are not enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten. This data is based on 70% of the estimated total number of children in the area, aligned with policy research estimates used by the State of Missouri.

“Child care is so difficult to get in West Plains. You have to be put on a waiting list. Most are a year or two and if you don’t personally know someone in the daycare you are looked over most of the time.”

-West Plains Parent

Infant & Toddler (Birth-2 Years)


Kids Served

715 Kids
164 Slots

Pre-Kindergarten (4-5 Years)


Kids Served

240 Kids
306 Slots

Other Preschool (3-5 Years)


Kids Served

482 Kids
295 Slots


According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), child care is considered affordable if it costs families no more than 7% of their income. With median household income of $40,733, local families are paying 17% or more of their income to cover the cost of care for one child.

% income parents pay for Infant & Toddler Care


% income parents pay for Preschool


* 7% affordability threshhold

Median Household Income (MHI)


Infant & Toddler parent tuition


Preschool parent tuition


Affordable Cost Level ( 7% MHI )



More Resources ARE NEEDED to Provide Affordable High-Quality Care

In addition to being unaffordable to families, the annual cost of tuition does not cover the
true cost of high quality care for providers. Additional funds from other stakeholders are needed to support high-quality care.

Total Cost: $19,626

Infant & Toddler



Total Cost: $11,164




Investment Gap
Affordable Cost for Parents

“The only solution we can find is to raise the cost of infant/toddler child care, which will only allow us to serve the families that can pay thousands a month and exclude any low income families. This would be a huge disservice to our community.”

– Provider in Jefferson City

Our Team Members and Affiliation

Amy Murphy

Friendship Circle Ministries/FUMC West Plains

Jessica Collins

Greater West Plains Area Chamber of Commerce

Kayla Giger

Litte Red Firehouse Daycare West Plains

Brenda Smith

Missouri State University - West Plains

Terry Sanders

Ozark Action Inc.*

Angie Kinder

Ozark Action Inc.*

Vance Viscusi

Ozarks Christian Academy

Dee Dee Button


Shana Omary


Dr. Amy Ross

West Plains R7 Schools

*Lead Organization

Data compiled and presented by IFF in partnership with Kids Win Missouri and Katie Rahn Consulting. Thank you to our partner, Ozark Action, Inc., and our funder, Children’s Trust Fund.