KeepHealthCare.ORG – Missouri makes anemic investment in early childhood programs | Letters to the editor
The news of two early childhood centers in St. Louis closing and a third cutting back its capacity (“Finding child care more challenging as 3 preschools close or scale back,” June 9) is most distressing. As the article points out, there already is a shortage of quality early child care programs to meet the needs of working parents in the St. Louis area. The article cited the financial difficulties faced by these centers, including hiring and retaining qualified teachers.
Also noted is the necessity of schools and community child care providers collaborating to maximize opportunities for quality education for children.
Missouri’s anemic investment in early care and education contributes to the problem. It ranks behind most other states in the reimbursement it offers child care providers for caring for children from low-income families. At only $369 per month per child, this represents just 36 percent of the average cost. This contributes to the financial challenges of child care providers, and to their difficulty in retaining quality staff. Wages matter. The median income for a child care professional in Missouri is $18,840.
Quality early childhood programs are proven to help prepare children to succeed in school and contribute to their social and emotional development. These programs are especially needed by lower-income working families who may not otherwise be able to afford them.
Providing quality early childhood programs is an investment in our future — one that results in more children succeeding in school, becoming productive members of our workforce, and growing into effective parents and citizens.
Katie Kaufmann and Sanaria Sulaiman • St. Louis
St. Louis Regional Early Childhood Council