To hear the Show Me Today interview with Wendy Doyle, of United Women’s Empowerment, click below.

Since the start of the pandemic, about 400 Missouri childcare providers have closed with no plans to reopen. That’s according to United Women’s Empowerment, a Missouri women’s advocacy organization.

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A Byrd/Missourinet

“Certainly in the state of Missouri, infant care is clearly lacking and extremely expensive – equivalent to in-state college tuition. This was an industry that was already stressed prior to the pandemic but the the pandemic certainly added additional level of stress to this industry. In the state of Missouri, we have a supply not meeting demand challenge and the workforce is certainly contributing to the childcare facilities not reopening,” said Wendy Doyle, the organization’s president and CEO. “We’re hearing consistently across the state that families are putting their names on waiting lists, just waiting for a slot to open up for their children. We’re in a significant crisis in the state of Missouri. It’s really impacting not only the childcare workforce itself, which is significant, but it also is impacting every employer in the state of Missouri.”

She said United WE’s research shows that one of the biggest childcare workforce problems is access to healthcare insurance. To combat the state’s worker shortages, she said the Missouri of Chamber of Commerce and Industry has stepped in to offer childcare providers access to its healthcare plans.

To join, the providers must be a member of a Missouri Chamber group.

Under a variety of health plans offered by the state’s largest business organization, providers can join a plan as a single pool, which lowers the costs. The businesses buy the health plans and must pay for at least half of the premium costs for their workers.

“This creates an opportunity for those who may not be in a position, may not be aware of such an opportunity, and trying to bring unique solutions to the table to help recruit and retain a childcare workforce,” said Doyle. “United WE particularly pays attention to this because this is primarily a women led workforce and we really want to see some unique solutions to care for our most precious Missouri residents, which are our children.”

Missouri is not unique. Doyle said other states are having similar problems.

For more information on the healthcare options, click here.

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