Missouri’s lack of daycare options will once again be a hot topic when lawmakers return to Jefferson City for the 2024 legislative session.

A survey published two years ago by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry says 28% of respondents claim they or someone in their household either quit a job or turned down a job offer because they lacked access to affordable childcare. The Missouri Chamber, along with the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, hosted a forum in April to explore potential solutions. State Rep. Brenda, R-St. Joseph, told the forum that lack of access is in fact a crisis.

“I beg of you as business leaders to contact your state legislators and tell them over and over (that) childcare is one of the number one reasons why your employees can’t come to work,” she said.

Shields sponsored a legislative bill this year that would create tax breaks designed to increase childcare access. The Missouri House of Representatives passed the bill but the proposal died in the Senate.

Wendy Doyle, President and CEO of United WE, told forum attendees the lack of affordable childcare is hurting Missouri’s economy.

“If we can get women fully participating in the workforce in Missouri, we can grow our economy by as much as 15% in a couple of years,” Doyle said. “We’re just working to get women back to work.”

Scott Gage, Vice President of Support Services at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, suggested that improved access to childcare would also benefit patient care at his hospital.

“The hospitals in your state, in the state of Missouri, are massive employers of women,” he said. “Those are women who do an amazing job every day when they come to work and people who are absolutely needed.”

Copyright 2023, Missourinet.