Child Care Crisis: Gov. Parson’s tax credits fall short in legislative session

Published: May. 15, 2023 at 5:50 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A plan to improve access to child care for thousands of Missouri families fell short during the legislative session. Child advocates are now reacting to the failed child tax credits.

Even if you don’t have a child, the child care crisis impacts everyone.

KY3 and Springfield Daily Citizen Child Care Crisis series.

It’s one of the reasons for our worker shortage. Parents cannot afford child care. Or, they cannot get one of those coveted spots. It was one of Governor Mike Parson’s top priorities this year. Tax credits designed to improve affordability and access. It did not cross the finish line, despite bipartisan support.

“It was a disappointment we weren’t able to help families and businesses out,” said Dana Carroll, with Community Partnership of the Ozarks.

There was a contribution tax credit, employer-provided assistance tax credit, and a child care providers tax credit.

“I think it was used as a bargaining chip rather than standing on its own merit,” said Carroll.

It was gridlock. That closed with a fizzle and frustration.

“Got held up in ego fights between some senators who wanted to get their own bills passed. I would say it was held hostage by some house members in exchange for trying to get other things done,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Crystal Quade.

What was accomplished earlier this month, nearly $80 million dollars in child care subsidies. This will help more families stay in good quality child care centers. There’s also an additional $56 million dollars for pre-kindergarten programs. This will improve access to early childhood education for all kids.

No solutions for worker pay. Providers can only make so much money because of staff and child ratios.

“You train them, and then they go find a job that they make a dollar more an hour or a couple of dollars more an hour -- why wouldn’t they?” asked Carroll.

Lawmakers, including Republican Lincoln Hough, tell On Your Side they’ll give it another go next year. His office sent this statement.

“As a parent of younger children, the challenges of daycare are ones I understand. I am disappointed the issue didn’t get addressed during this session. This is a complex problem that includes licensure, staffing, and regulations and those lead to availability and cost. Both private sector and government will need to be involved in addressing this problem. I look forward to working with my colleagues when we return to Jefferson City in January on this issue, " stated Lincoln Hough, senator from Springfield.

On Your Side reached out to Governor Parson’s office for comment. We have not heard back.

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