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Military, Law Enforcement Leaders Push for Childcare, Early Education Investment

Leaders cite value of early investments on public safety, military preparedness

Jefferson City, MO – Mission: Readiness, a national nonpartisan organization of 800 retired flag and general officers and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a bipartisan, national, nonprofit organization of 5,000 law enforcement leaders—including 120 in Missouri—today, joined the Missouri Champion of Children Coalition in supporting increased investments in childcare and early education programs. In letters to state lawmakers, the organizations expressed their continued support for childcare and early education, citing impact on education, health, economic, public safety and even national security outcomes. The Mission: Readiness letter can be found here and the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids letter can be found here.

“We are concerned that far too many young Missourians are ineligible to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces,” Mission: Readiness said in their letter to state policymakers. “Recognizing the tremendous benefits of early care and education, the Department of Defense has invested in exemplary programs for military families—including child care, preschool, parent supports, and other efforts. We believe Missouri would similarly only be strengthened with additional evidence-based investments in infants and toddlers. “

“The best way to stop crime is to invest in evidence-based programs that prevent it,” Fight Crime: Invest in Kids said in their letter to state policymakers. “We know from our own experiences in law enforcement and from decades of research that high-quality child care and early learning don’t just prepare kids to succeed in school and life; they also protect public safety. There is no better time than this budget cycle to invest in our next generation.”

“We are grateful to these military and law enforcement leaders for their advocacy in support of our youngest kids.” said Brian Schmidt, Executive Director of Kids Win Missouri. “We appreciate the legislature’s leadership on these important issues and urge the legislature to continue to prioritize investing in Missouri kids.”
Last month, Governor Parson delivered his State of the State address and proposed additional investments in child care and early education in his final executive budget. Parson’s proposed investments include:

• $52 million in additional funding to increase child care subsidy rates currently at the 58th percentile for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged children to the 100th percentile for infants and toddlers and the 65th percentile for preschoolers and school-aged children as based on most recent market rate study 
• A package of child care tax incentives to support employers in providing or helping their employees afford child care and to support child care providers with resources for their operations and capital improvements 
• $82 million in continued funding for high quality pre-K provided by school districts and community-based child care providers.

Childcare and early education has broad support among key groups across Missouri and among the general public. This year, more than 40 individuals and organizations, representing businesses, child care providers, faith groups, child welfare organizations, and local communities testified in hearings at the Capitol in support of childcare and early childhood education. A poll released in October by the Missouri Champion of Children coalition showed widespread bipartisan support among Missouri voters for increasing investments in childcare and early childhood education programs across the state. A memo of key findings can be found here.

Key findings from the poll include:

• 86% of voters, including 75% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats, say students with quality early childhood education have a better chance of success in school.
• 89% agree that increasing access to affordable childcare will help more parents succeed at work.
• 62% of very conservative voters and 86% of very liberal voters believe increasing access to early childhood education will reduce crime.
• 90% of voters say having childcare options for families supports businesses and the economy.
• 55% of voters believe the state spends too little on early childhood education.
• 61% of voters disagree with the statement “it is easy to find affordable childcare in my area.”

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