Missouri is thinking about testing a plan to help address its childcare problems. Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, is proposing to create a pilot program that would evenly divide childcare costs between participating businesses, employees, and the state.

“I don’t know how families do it now, I really don’t. I don’t know how we have forgotten how important this is,” Razer said to a Missouri Senate committee. “I can make a pretty strong argument that we may not have won World War Two without childcare because Rosie could have never riveted if somebody wasn’t watching the kids.”

The idea came about last summer while Razer led a fellowship program of students seeking their PhD. The students helped him to develop ideas to fix the Missouri’s childcare predicament.

The group landed on a proposal that is based on Michigan’s Tri-Share program. Under his bill, the program must be used in at least one rural region and one urban region of Missouri.

“Employers would opt into the program,” he said. “The incentive here is simply that they’re providing something that their competitors aren’t that they are saying, ‘We will help you with childcare.’ There are no tax incentives. There are no anything other than the fact that they will be a leg up against their competitors.”

He said the program has been very successful in Michigan.

“They have seen this program grow quite a bit since its beginning,” said Razer. “The very first year, they appropriated $1 million for it. They had 37 businesses take advantage and a little over 400 families that took advantage of it. On average, the employee participation decreased their monthly childcare costs by $464 or 65% of the cost of childcare in that first year.”

According of Razer, 82% of employees agreed or strongly agreed that the Michigan program makes them more likely to keep working and to stay at their current job.

“Most of the employers surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the program has and will continue to help them retain employees in the future. The impact on provider sustainability is fairly limited at the early stage in year one there, but strongly agreed that participation improved their financial sustainability,” he said.

According to Razer, the type of businesses participating in the program ranged greatly from manufacturing, education, tourism, healthcare, distribution, banking, and retail.

Razer calls his bill a free market approach. To qualify for example, a married Missouri family with one child could make between $50,000 to $80,000 annually.

During a Missouri Senate committee hearing on the bill, no one spoke in opposition to the plan. The committee could vote on the proposal soon.

To view Senate Bill 881, click here.

Copyright 2024, Missourinet.