Missouri Business Headlines

Childcare crisis: Senate votes to help parents re-enter workforce

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With Missouri’s childcare shortage costing the state an estimated $1.35 billion, lawmakers are continuing to advance an innovative budget proposal to help parents re-enter the workforce.

The budget passed by the Missouri Senate on April 26 establishes new funding to help private employers form partnerships with childcare providers or establish new dedicated childcare centers to serve employees. The proposal would also empower small businesses to band together and offer this benefit.

The action on childcare comes after a report by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the US Chamber Foundation revealed that many Missouri parents want to work but aren’t able to because they can’t find childcare. The problem is so severe that nearly 1 in 10 working parents in Missouri said they quit a job due to childcare issues, and nearly one in three parents have changed jobs due to childcare in the last year.

This childcare crisis is intensifying the state’s current workforce shortage, which remains the top concern for Missouri employers. According to a recent Missouri Chamber poll, more than half of business leaders say talent is the top issue impacting their profitability. Furthermore, nearly 70 percent of Missouri employers say workforce is either the first or second biggest factor impacting their growth.

The Senate-passed budget would allow employers to receive grants up to $250,000 for innovative childcare proposals that would help get more parents into the workforce. The budget passed by the Missouri House earlier in April also included funding for childcare.

“Businesses across Missouri are struggling to find workers and it’s clear that the state’s growing childcare crisis is at the center of the problem,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber. “This is an urgent issue and we are grateful that state lawmakers are focused on working with the business community to find a solution. We believe that the proposals under consideration can help Missouri become a national leader in addressing this crisis.”

The Senate-passed budget also includes $15 million to support efforts to onshore targeted high-tech manufacturing industries that are vital to national security in Missouri. The state is currently seeing strong growth in the tech industry, with the Missouri Chamber’s Technology Alliance working to maximize the state’s potential to be a hub for tech and innovation. In response to recent global supply chain disruptions, the Missouri Chamber championed this funding to help as Missouri works to become an attractive location for domestic semiconductor and pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing.

“There are strong national security and economic arguments being made right now about the need to onshore semiconductor and pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing. As these industry functions look to expand in the United States, we think Missouri — a leading state for tech manufacturing growth — stands to benefit,” said Mehan. “If we succeed in attracting this industry expansion, the effects would ripple across our economy for decades to come. We greatly appreciate the Missouri Senate for using available resources to support this vitally important effort.”

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