Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Show That the Well-Being of Young Children Matters

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Show That the Well-Being of Young Children Matters

Article excerpt

The Missouri Minority Daycare Association recently voiced concerns regarding alleged unfair treatment of minority-owned child care centers in the state's administration of licensing oversight and subsidy contracts ("St. Louis minority day-care operators claim regulatory bias," April 25). Concerns of racism must be taken seriously, and minority child care providers deserve an immediate response from state officials.

At the same time, Missouri must work harder to invest in our system of care for young children, especially those in minority and low-income communities across the state. We lag far behind our neighbors in every measure of quality and care for our most vulnerable children.

Many of the same structural forces that have created persistent racial inequities in St. Louis likely affect the ability of child care centers in minority neighborhoods to comply with regulations. Deteriorating infrastructure and building quality, absentee landlords, and lack of access to business and real estate capital may result in more licensing violations related to facilities. It is nearly impossible for child care centers to make ends meet if they rely on Missouri's extremely low child care subsidy payments; they struggle to recruit and retain child care professionals with two- or four-year college degrees in the field, leading to difficulties maintaining instructional quality.

While our community must face and address institutional barriers to racial equity, our state policies must also change in order to raise the level of quality and sustainability of all child care providers in Missouri. We need quality standards for child care providers with assistance that helps them reach higher levels over time, and increases in child care reimbursement for low-income families if we are going to reach even an adequate level of care.

Every one of our neighboring states has a quality rating system in place that encourages and rewards child care providers to increase the quality of their programs. Every one of our neighboring states provides a higher amount of child care subsidy to low-income families relative to the cost of care. …

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