JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R) delivered his State of the State address Wednesday afternoon.

During the speech, he proposed three new child tax care credit programs. Those would improve Missouri’s childcare facilities, help employers who are supporting their workers with childcare assistance, and give a pay increase to more childcare workers.

The governor also requested $56 million to expand Pre-K options for free and reduced lunches and $78 million to increase childcare subsidy rates.

“Money is a weight on a lot of people’s shoulders,” said Morgan Reed, a mother from Basehor. She moved there from Overland Park because it had an affordable daycare facility. “Some of these daycares were $1700 to $1800/month for just one child. That’s more than my house payment and car payment combined.” 

However, it took from July 2021 to December 2021 before her unborn baby got off a waitlist. Her now 11-month-old son, who arrived in January 2022, has been thriving at his daycare.

Reed admits she thought about possibly not going back to work in order to care for her child. Something many mothers on both sides of the state line have considered, according to Wendy Doyle with United WE (Women’s Empowerment).

“We lost about 400 childcare facilities in the state of the Missouri as a result of the pandemic with no plans to reopen,” said Doyle.

Her organization works to advance women economically and civically. She said they spent the last couple of years looking into the childcare crisis. 

Following a summer 2022 study, United WE held townhalls with mothers and childcare providers, listening to issues impacting both sides.

“For a single mom, sometimes it can be as much as a third of her income to be able to afford childcare. In childcare facilities, being able to find workers to meet the needs has been a challenge.” 

One solution United WE has identified is to partner with the Missouri State Chamber to offer benefits to childcare providers. However, providers are required to be a local chamber member.

The organization is also conducting a two-year research study, which looks at each state’s childcare facility licensing requirements. Their goal is to learn who’s making it streamlined and easy for new businesses to open. They plan to bring the best practices they find back home to Missouri.

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“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It’s going to take a lot of time to build and get the infrastructure in place for Missouri for success for childcare,” added Doyle.

That’s something that can’t come soon enough for mothers like Reed. “Start searching, start reaching out, start touring, and start getting your name onto any list you can.”