Majority of Missouri Counties are Child Care Deserts

    In a recent posting, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland states, "The lack of affordable and accessible childcare largely affects women with young children and will likely continue to keep some of these women out of the labor force even after the end of the pandemic because of the increased cost of childcare and the long-term job separations experienced by these mothers."

    Child Care Aware® of Missouri (CCAMO) continually analyzes the number of counties considered Child Care Deserts. Child Care Deserts are defined as 1) a county with greater than 50 children under age 5 that contains either no child care providers or 2) so few options that there are more than 3 times as many children as licensed child care slots.

    Currently, 77 counties in Missouri are Child Care Deserts, an increase from 75 counties in April 2022 and 70 counties in December 2021. This indicates that there are fewer child care programs for working parents and guardians than just six months and ten months earlier.

    In a commentary titled, The Case for Child Care and Early Learning for All: Economic Prosperity, The Century Foundation stated:

    “Over the past forty years, as more women entered the labor force and brought home larger paychecks, they have driven 91 percent of the income gains experienced by middle-class families. And while women have pieced together child care solutions in often creative ways, and in spite of the lack of a comprehensive system, the pandemic revealed just how precarious the solutions have been. The combination of the lack of child care and school, along with other factors like occupational segregation, which pushes women into sectors hit the hardest by the current economic crisis, wiped out more than thirty years of women’s employment gains in the United States. At the height of the pandemic, The Century Foundation and the Center for American Progress estimated that the United States could lose up to $64.5 billion annually in women’s earnings due to their reduction in work hours and leaving their jobs as a result of the lack of child care. Ready Nation, an organization representing business executives, recently wrote: “Returning women to work is key to our nation’s economic recovery, as female labor force participation contributes $7.6 trillion to the US GDP every year.”"

    Parents continue to need child care to obtain and retain a job, and children need a safe place to stay that promotes their healthy development while their parents are working. Missouri's economy will struggle without childcare options to allow parents to work. New and existing child care facilities need active assistance to become viable and sustainable and should be a priority of governmental, public, and private entities.


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