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Priority early childhood education legislation introduced

Legislation focused on early childhood education is being praised by the Missouri Champion of Children coalition for addressing the ongoing childcare and early education accessibility and affordability crisis.

A poll shared by the coalition shows that 80% of Missourians believe that early childhood education can help parents, children, and local businesses succeed.

“Missourians across the demographic, political, and ideological spectrum overwhelmingly support affordable, quality childcare and early learning opportunities for Missouri children,” said Brian Schmidt, Executive Director of Kids Win Missouri.

“This is a crisis impacting children and families, public safety, and our economy. Significant progress has been made already and, with the support of Missourians and legislative leaders, we look forward to working to strengthen policies and investments in childcare and early education in 2024.”

The first bill filing of the 2024 legislative session saw action to support child care from both chambers. Sen. Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City) and Rep. Brenda Shields (R-St. Joseph) filed SB 742 and HB 1488. These bills included tax incentives for businesses and individuals for charitable contributions to child care providers. To receive the incentive, businesses must provide childcare to employees.

“Missourians across the demographic, political, and ideological spectrum overwhelmingly support affordable, quality childcare and early learning opportunities for Missouri children,” said Brian Schmidt, Executive Director of Kids Win Missouri.

“This is a crisis impacting children and families, public safety, and our economy. Significant progress has been made already and, with the support of Missourians and legislative leaders, we look forward to working to strengthen policies and investments in childcare and early education in 2024.”

The poll, which was done by Victory Enterprises, was conducted in early October and interviewed 600 likely general election voters. Data showed that voters of both ends of the political spectrum believe access to quality child care can reduce crime.

More than 90% of voters also believe having childcare options for families helps to recruit and maintain businesses while supporting the economy.

“Missouri is facing a childcare crisis that requires us to use every tool in our toolbox to meet the moment,” said Arthur. “In addition to a significant and sustained investment from the state, we also need to make it easier for businesses to help their employees find care. Last year, our childcare tax credit bill received bipartisan support but did not make it across the finish line. This year, we need to get this bill to the governor’s desk so we can help more parents access safe, affordable, quality childcare.”

Arthur is no stranger to education. Before entering politics, she was a middle school teacher. Arthur has also sponsored past legislation relating to education and sits on the Competency-based Education Task Force committee.

“I am excited to reintroduce the childcare tax credit bill this session,” said Shields . “I believe we have the momentum to pass this important piece of legislation that will increase our state’s capacity to provide high-quality early childhood care. This public-private partnership opportunity leverages our state’s resources for the benefit of our children, our caregivers, and our businesses.”

Shields also taught in public education before becoming a State Representative. She also has served on the Missouri’s Coordination Board for Early Childhood Education.

The future of these bills will be decided in the upcoming 2024 session which starts in January.

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