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Child Care, Early Education Proposals Receive Bipartisan Support Ahead of 2024 Legislative Session

Jefferson City, MO — The Missouri Champion of Children Coalition is applauding legislative efforts to address the ongoing childcare and early education accessibility and affordability crisis impacting Missouri families and businesses. Recent polling shows that Missourians overwhelmingly support investments in childcare and early education. Polling from October showed 86% of Missourians believed early childhood education supports kids’ success in school, 89% believed affordable childcare helps parents succeed at work, and 90% believed having childcare options for families supports businesses and local economies.

Sen. Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City) filed SB 742 and Rep. Brenda Shields (R-St. Joseph) filed HB 1488 which would provide tax incentives for businesses that provide childcare to employees and provides a tax incentive to individuals who make charitable contributions to child care providers. The bipartisan Senate Bill 742 and House Bill 1488 incentivize businesses to support childcare and early learning programs through tax credits. More than 83% of Missouri voters believe such measures help businesses while expanding access for working families. Arthur and Shields also filed SB 743 and HB 1486 respectively, both of which would provide funding for school districts to support pre-K education for kids.

Childcare and early education are priorities for Governor Mike Parson and his administration. “Not only has the historical lack of access to early learning and child care programs been a problem for the educational success of Missouri children, it’s a workforce problem for families and businesses all across our state,” Governor Mike Parson said. “Families already have a lot to consider when deciding whether to work or stay home. What we don’t want is lack of child care options to be the contributing factor, and that’s why our administration will continue prioritizing early learning initiatives and supports. These are commonsense measures that are good for business, great for families, and best for Missouri children.”

“We applaud Senator Arthur, Representative Shields, and legislative leaders for their commitment to tackling this critical issue,” said Brian Schmidt, Executive Director of Kids Win Missouri. “Their leadership reflects the values of over 80% of Missouri voters who believe quality early childhood education opportunities help children, parents, businesses, and communities succeed.”

“Our workforce shortage is the most crucial challenge facing Missouri employers — with childcare remaining a significant barrier for many Missourians who want to work. Missouri’s economy loses more than $1.35 billion annually due to the lack of childcare access,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Sarah Gould, Early Learning Center Director at Community Support Services of Missouri in Webb City, Missouri said, “Missouri’s childcare crisis is having a real and damaging impact on children, families, communities, families and local economies all across the state. Of the 73 counties designated child care deserts, 70 of them are located in rural counties. We are incredibly grateful to see bold leadership from Governor Parson, policymakers and budget officials in Jefferson City who continue to work to find solutions to solve this crisis.”

“Through collaboration and compromise, and the leadership of Governor Parson and leaders in the General Assembly, we are getting results for Missouri kids and families,” said Schmidt. “But more work remains. We look forward to additional progress in the 2024 legislative session.”

Learn more about the movement to support childcare and early childhood at MoChampionofChildren.com.