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Missouri's Childcare Drought

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Carlos Moreno/KCUR 89.3
The pandemic has only added to the strain parents face in finding childcare.

Like most of the country, Missouri’s childcare system is a patchwork of private and public facilities that are often prohibitively expensive.

Childcare in America is in crisis .

In Missouri and Kansas it was already crumbling.

Robin Phillips of Childcare Aware of Missouri says, "COVID pulled back the curtain on all the fragmentation in the childcare system."

According to Phillips about 85% of the programs that were open prior to the pandemic have come back.

Two problems she sees are that those facilities are operating at only a 50 to 65 percent accommodation rate and the significant workforce shortage.

Phillips believes the underlying issue is that childcare is looked at as an occupation and not valued as a profession. This despite the fact that the most significant brain development happens to a child by age five.

As the world tries to bounce back from the pandemic, people are going back to work and to do that they need proper care for their children.

Phillips observes, "This isn't a low-income family's challenge but a working family's challenge."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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