COLOMBIA – More child care options may be available to the state due to Senate Bill 683.
Although it means more competition, A Good Start Preschool Administrator Jonathan Williams said he thinks this bill could be good for Missourians.
“It will be very necessary,” Williams said. “Within the community and providing more help with childcare.”
Missouri lawmakers are working to advance SB 683, a budget proposal that would help parents re-enter the workforce. This means more parents will need daycare options for their children.
The bill creates funding for private employers to connect with child care centers and other child care providers. The proposal would also establish new child care centers that would aim to serve employees.
In a reportthe Missouri Chamber of Commerce said the state lost nearly $1.35 billion due to child care gaps.
“Missouri businesses are struggling to find workers, and it’s clear that the state’s growing child care crisis is at the center of the problem,” said the president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber. Daniel Mehan in a press release.
The Chamber of Commerce said barriers include distance and childcare costs. Williams said there was also a shortage of daycare centers and child care options for parents in the community.
“I hear from many families who inquire about our school that they also struggle to get into other centers,” Williams said.
Spencer Kane is a working parent with two sons at A Good Start Preschool. He said it was difficult to find a good daycare that also accommodated his hours of work needs.
“Working in a hospital, we’re open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, variable shifts, and it’s tough,” Kane said. “Having an installation that I can drop off as early as 6:30 a.m. is a bit difficult to achieve.”
He said the pandemic has added to that stress.
“We moved here just when the pandemic hit,” Kane said. “So it was very difficult to find daycare when everything was closed.”
While the Senate is working to combat this, the pandemic has caused many child care centers to close.
“I know a lot of people who couldn’t do it, unfortunately,” Williams said.
A Good Start Preschool has been in business for over 20 years. Williams said that despite the pandemic, her business is at full capacity.
“I have a growing waiting list, about up to eight months right now,” Williams said. “For all our ages.”
Many daycare centers close around 6 p.m. daily. This can be a challenge for working parents. However, Williams said keeping the doors of a daycare center open later could cause more problems for workers.
“As far as staffing goes,” Williams said. “A lot of our staff, especially our full-time staff, have their own family that they have to take care of as well and have to be there for.”
If passed, the budget will provide employers with subsidies of up to $250,000 for child care.
“It’s an urgent problem,” Mehan said. “We believe the proposals under consideration can help Missouri become a national leader in addressing this crisis.”
The Missouri House also passed a budget earlier this month that included funding for child care.