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Missouri Bill Could Help Parents Find Best Child Care

Forty-five states have early childhood quality assessment and rating systems. (Pixabay)
Forty-five states have early childhood quality assessment and rating systems. (Pixabay)
February 7, 2018

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Parents in Missouri seeking child care typically rely on word of mouth and social media platforms such as Yelp to find quality education and providers, but a bill moving through the Missouri General Assembly could make things easier.

Missouri is one of eight states without a framework for assessing the quality of early childhood education and care services.

House Bill 1420, by Rep. Donna Pfautsch (R-Harrisonville) would extend a stalled pilot program that creates a statewide voluntary assessment and improvement system.

Judy Dungan, director of policy and advocacy with Kids Win Missouri, says deciding on a child care provider is one of the most important decisions a parent makes.

"We think this is really, really important for Missouri to join the other states in the country that evaluate their child care providers for quality and give our parents the same tools to be able to do that," she stresses.

In 2016, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education started the pilot program, but it didn't receive funding and is in danger of expiring unless HB 1420 passes.

In addition to equipping parents with the tools they need to choose a quality provider, Katie Rahn, executive director of SouthSide Early Childhood Center in St. Louis, says it also helps her provide better services.

"Mainly because it will allow us to create a set of standards that will let us measure and label quality and then really help providers move into a journey of continuous quality improvement," she explains.

Advocates such as Dungan say not having a standard system hurts the state because Missouri is then unable to compete for federal early-learning grants, most recently missing out on a $75 million opportunity.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MO