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Missouri makes one of the largest investments in early childhood education

Missouri’s prekindergarten and childcare systems are getting a $160 million boost in the new state budget year that is in full swing. The funding is one of Missouri’s largest state investments in early childhood education in Missouri history.

The state legislature’s budget decision comes after the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the state’s economy missed out on $1.3 billion in 2021 due to a lack of access to childcare. At least half of Missouri lacks access to quality childcare.

The legislature passed and Gov. Mike Parson signed a state budget with $82 million dollars for community-based childcare providers and public schools to increase the number of pre-k slots.

Torree Pederson, is the president and CEO of a Missouri education nonprofit, called Aligned. She said the budget item will boost pre-k slots by several thousand children. Pederson said the return on investment of getting the state’s youngest citizens ready for kindergarten is exponential.

“We’ve known for years that 90% of the child’s brain growth develops in the first five years,” said Pederson. “So, putting this kind of investment in the first five years of a child’s life is really the most responsible use of our taxpayer dollars.”

Read the full article at missourinet.com