The cost of child care is a significant problem both nationwide and in Missouri. Afterschool programs provide enriching child care for school-age children that takes place outside normal school hours or during the summer months. Depending on the specific criteria, Missouri afterschool programs may be required to be licensed or may be license-exempt. There are advantages and disadvantages of licensure and exemption including access to certain federal grants. During the 2022 legislative session in Missouri, several bills have been introduced that would modify child care provisions or add child care tax credits (HB 1648, HB 2441, HB 2867, HB 2886, SB 683, and SB 916).
- Afterschool programs can provide enrichment to children in several different forms including academic assistance, building social skills and wellness, and/or career development. These programs have been associated with several positive outcomes for children including higher test scores, increased school attendance rates, and lower drug use.
- In Missouri, 55% of counties are classified as child care deserts meaning that there is a greater than 3-to-1 ratio of children to licensed child care slots.
- Women are disproportionately affected by child care shortages with 94% of involuntary part-time workers being women.
- Child care licensing laws vary between states. Therefore, best practices for afterschool licensing remain unknown. However, the U.S. Office of Children & Families has recommendations for policies that ensure safe and healthy child care including such topics as child-to-adult ratios; nutrition and physical activity; health and safety trainings; and background checks.