On Wed., Oct. 4, legislators and business leaders gathered for a morning of networking and discussion on Missouri’s child care crisis and its significant impact on employers and working families.
Nearly 75 people attended the forum at MU’s Center for Family Policy and Research. The event was co-hosted by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, University of Missouri, Columbia Chamber of Commerce and Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce.
A panel discussion about the magnitude of the crisis and potential policy solutions kicked off the forum.
“Even though it’s my personal choice if I use child care or not, this is really an economic matter,” said Brenda Lohman, chair of Human Development and Family Science at the University of Missouri. “It’s for the government, the university, for businesses to get together to try to problem solve how we can create workforce in the state of Missouri.”
In 2021, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Missouri Chamber released a report that showed Missouri misses out on an estimated $1.35 billion annually, including a $280 million annual loss in tax revenue, due to child care issues.
Among the panelists was Rep. Brenda Shields (R-St. Joseph), who sponsored child care tax credit legislation that had bipartisan support during the 2023 legislative session. Although the tax credit package stalled in the last week of the legislative session, Shields and other supporters have vowed to bring it back in 2024.
“I truly believe – and this is why I’m passionate about this package and I’m passionate about what we need to do – I think if we can solve the child care crisis in the state of Missouri, we’ll be able to drive businesses to want to come here,” Shields said.
Other speakers included Chris Riley, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Missouri, and Alex Tuttle, legislative budget director for Gov. Mike Parson.
“On one hand, we’re in a crisis. On the other hand, I’m really excited that we’ve got the people at the table who are interested in having these conversations in an area that we haven’t historically had them,” Riley said.