The members of Women's Voices Raised for Social Justice believe that high-quality, affordable child care should be available to all Missouri families who need it.
The physical, emotional and cognitive growth of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens is not only a wise investment, but a moral imperative. No child deserves to spend hours of his or her young life in situations that are unsafe and stultifying.
According to Child Care Aware® of Missouri, the state's leading source for child care information, almost 300,000 Missouri children under age five spend an average of 36 hours per week in the care of someone other than their parents while their parents work.
Unfortunately, many of the situations in which our children are placed do not meet even minimum standards. The Midwest Child Care Research Consortium reports that 63% of the child care1 programs in Missouri are of mediocre to poor quality2.
Of particular concern are the state's unlicensed and minimally regulated small family child care homes, where overcrowding and unsafe practices can lead to injury and even death. The National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, the nation's leading voice for child care, reports that Missouri scored only 25%, 36 out of a possible 140, on measurements of quality and safety for such facilities.
To build an improved network of high-quality, affordable child care for all Missouri families, we support:
Minimum standards for all child care settings, including those that are unlicensed.
Effective oversight of such standards, with appropriate penalties for non-compliance.
Expanded screening of all personnel; expanded training requirements for all personnel in such areas as safety and child development.
Increased financial support for low-income families who need child care.
Enhanced transparency of state child care standards, inspections and findings so that parents can make wise choices.
1The term "child care" refers to programs for young children before kindergarten entry, and those programs that serve older children and youth before and after school.
2Raikes, H., Wilcox, B., Peterson, C., Hegland, S., Atwater, J., Summers, J., Thornburg, K., Torquati, J., Edwards, C., & Raikes, A. (2003). Child care quality and workforce characteristics in four Midwestern states. Omaha: The Gallup Organization.