Thanks to a $78.5 million budget increase authorized by Missouri lawmakers earlier this year, childcare providers who accept a state child care subsidy to help low-income families will see an increase in payments starting next month.
According to a published article from Yahoo News, the funding increase, which was a part of the governor’s approved state budget, became effective on July 1.
Because the state pays the child care subsidy retroactively, in the month following services are rendered, it won’t be reflected in payments to providers until mid-August.
Good Shepherd Early Learning Center in St. Louis and Good Shepherd Early Learning Center West in Warrenton owner Cortaiga Collins expressed her “elation and relief” at the news of the rise.
Most of the kids at Collins’ Center are low-income and get help from the government.
She expressed optimism that this was just the start of increased governmental investment in young children. “I was very happy to see the difference; there has been a noticeable improvement.”
The goal of the child care subsidy program is to persuade childcare providers to give services to foster families and low-income families.
To boost access to child care across the state, Gov. Mike Parson’s legislative agenda included an increase in the reimbursement rate.
According to a collaborative study by The Independent and MuckRock titled “Disappearing Day Care,” about 202,000 of Missouri’s under-5-year-old children live in child care deserts.
A child care desert is a place where there are either no licensed child care spaces at all or more than three children under the age of five for every licensed slot. They can be found across Missouri.
Many providers claim that waitlists are common, in part because providers find it difficult to attract staff, even in places that are not deemed deserts and where capacity appears to be abundant on paper.
The child care subsidy does not fully cover the cost of care; frequently, parents are expected to make up the difference between what the state pays and the tuition, but not all families can afford this, according to Hanson.
Providers may lose money or decide to accept fewer children if parents are unable to pay.
According to a published article from The 74, as of June, some 23,000 kids in Missouri were receiving the child care subsidy under a federal program called the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which is managed by the states.
Families can request that the state pay a portion of the cost of daycare via child care subsidy directly to a childcare provider.
Only extremely low-income families and foster children are eligible in Missouri for this child care subsidy.
The threshold in Missouri is 150% of the federal poverty level, or $41,625 per year for a family of four. For those who fall between 150% and 215% of the federal poverty level, payments are phased out.
Mallory McGowin, a representative for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, verified that the increase is supported by one-time federal American Rescue Plan Act child care relief monies.
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