The State of Child Care in Kansas and Missouri
Child Care plays an important role in our community. At the most basic level, it enables parents to work. At a high-quality level, it prepares children for success in school and beyond.
Each year, Child Care Aware® releases their State Fact Sheets, which provide important data regarding the state of child care and early learning. We reviewed this data and have some insights to share.
Child Care Is Too Expensive
If you have children, this is not new information. Child care is expensive. In Kansas and Missouri, families can expect to pay more than $10,000 per year for child care (center-based care for an infant). While cost sharing subsidies are available to families with low incomes in both states, the cost can still be unmanageable and finding a quality program that accepts subsidy can be challenging.
The cost of care can be a major drain on parents’ bank accounts, but it’s not exactly lucrative for teachers either. With the average earnings for child care workers at about $10 per hour, early educators aren’t coming out on top. Furthermore, most program owners and operators aren’t faring much better. Many struggle to keep their programs in operation as they’re confronted with the reality that parents can’t afford their services and they can’t afford to offer further discounts.
Finding Child Care Can be a Challenge
In both states, the potential need for care far exceeds the availability of licensed care. Many programs, especially those known for offering high-quality care, have waitlists excess of six months. With demand exceeding availability, especially when considering budgets, schedules and geographic needs, families are often forced to choose alternatives that may not be the best option for their children.
Not all Care is High-Quality
Even with the high cost of care, quality is not guaranteed. The fact sheets point out that roughly five percent of child care providers in the two states are accredited. While many programs without accreditation offer high-quality care, accreditation provides proof. Without it, and the absence of a quality rating system in both states, parents bear the burden of assessing quality.
Research shows attending high-quality child care significantly increases a child’s likelihood of being successful in school, and reduces the likelihood of suffering negative experiences like incarceration and addiction. We know there are a lot of amazing providers that are doing just this in our community. However, for many families high-quality child care isn’t an option.
What You Can Do
You can support TFC’s efforts to ensure all children have access to quality early care and education. Sign up for our advocacy alerts to learn how you can use your voice to create change.
Highlights from the Kansas and Missouri Fact Sheets
Kansas State Fact Sheet Highlights:
- Nineteen percent of children under the age of 5 are living in poverty. Research shows that factors associated with poverty (stress and a lack of positive experiences) can impede brain development.
- On average, one year of infant child care at a non-accredited center is $10,955. Family child care for an infant averages $6,749 annually. For most families, this far exceeds the recommended maximum expenditure set by the Department of Health and Human Services (seven percent of household income).
- There are 154,871 children, under age 6, potentially in need of child care. This represents a serious shortage as there are less than 100,000 licensed slots for for this age group statewide.
- There are 1,194 center-based programs in Kansas, yet only 3 percent of them are nationally accredited. State licensing doesn’t always ensure quality. Learn more about state licensing requirements in Kansas here.
- Child care workers in Kansas have an annual average salary of approximately $20,000. This makes recruiting and retaining a workforce capable of providing quality care difficult.
Missouri State Fact Sheet Highlights:
- Twenty-three percent of children under the age of 5 are growing up in poverty. Research shows that factors associated with poverty (stress and a lack of positive experiences) can impede brain development. Fortunately, we also know that quality child care providers can enhance development by teaching important skills that lead to success in school and life.
- One year of center-based infant care averages $9,802. Family child care for an infant averages $5,708 per year.
- There are 292,353 children 5 and under potentially in need of child care. This represents a serious short as there are only 141,038 slots statewide.
- There are 1,830 center-based child care programs, but only 7 percent of center-based programs are nationally accredited. State licensing doesn’t always ensure quality. Learn more about state licensing requirements in Missouri here.
- Child care workers have an annual average salary of $23,490.
Use your voice to improve access to high-quality care.