The Department of Health and Senior Services is dedicating $10 million in CARES Act funds to offer additional relief for Licensed, License-Exempt and Registered child care providers throughout Missouri. A report released by Kids Win Missouri in June details the additional costs child care providers have taken on as they work to maintain healthy and safe environments through the pandemic, abiding by CDC guidelines and local health orders or restrictions. Additional costs include purchasing PPE, sanitation supplies, additional staff to accommodate health and safety requirements as well as lower teacher-to-student ratios and group sizes, and other equipment to modify spaces to help meet requirements.
While the support from DHSS is necessary and comes at a critical time, advocates are still pushing for additional federal relief to further support and sustain child care programs and assist families as they try to re-enter the workforce and return to their in-person jobs. According to an August landscape report released by Child Care Aware of Missouri, 95 of Missouri’s 114 counties are now considered child care deserts, growing from 63 counties with the designation prior to the pandemic.
To date, pandemic relief for child care has been included in negotiations around a new federal stimulus package. Kids Win Missouri and organizations throughout the country have been advocating for a federal investment of $50 billion to stabilize child care providers’ operations and maintain the supply of child care at pre-pandemic levels.