Missouri’s governor made access to child care a top priority. Where do his proposals stand?

By: - May 3, 2023 5:50 am

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson delivered his annual State of the State Address on Jan. 18, 2023 (Tim Bommel/Missouri House Communications).

A collaboration between The Missouri Independent and MuckRock

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson made improving access to child care a major part of his 2023 legislative agenda, declaring during his annual State of the State address in January that “early childhood care is essential to our state’s success.”

Since then, lawmakers have worked to enact his recommendations, but the proposals have faced roadblocks on their way to his desk. 

The Missouri General Assembly adjourns for the year at 6 p.m. on May 12. Here are where Parson’s major child care priorities stand: 

  • $56 million to expand pre-k to all four-year-olds eligible for free or reduced-price lunch: The House’s version of the budget funded the pre-k program through the regular school aid in the foundation formula, despite concerns from some lawmakers that school districts wouldn’t be ready to host pre-k, or that it was too costly, and others argued a universal program would be fairer. The funding was set off in a separate line by the Senate, and it made the final version of the state’s $50 billion budget this week that will receive final votes this week.


  • $78 million to increase child subsidy rates: The House removed this from its budget only to see the Senate restore it. Critics of the increase argued the rates had been improperly set. This funding is also expected to remain in the budget when it heads to the governor for his signature.

Parson has also pushed to create tax credits to “improve child care facilities, support employers who support their workers with child care assistance, and allow more of our dedicated child care workers to earn a pay increase.”

Unlike his budget proposals, the tax credits face a more uncertain future due to opposition from conservative lawmakers in the Senate. 

  • A child care contribution tax credit, which would allow donors to child care providers to receive a credit equal to 75% of a qualifying donation, up to a $200,000 tax credit. 


  • Employer-provided child care assistance tax credit, which would allow employers to receive tax credits equivalent to 30% of qualifying child care expenditures.


  • Child care providers tax credit, which would allow child care providers to claim a tax credit equal to the provider’s employer withholding tax and up to 30% of a provider’s capital expenditures on costs like expanding or renovating their facilities. 


  • The Supporting Use of Child Care for Economic Stability and Security (SUCCESS) Tax Credit, while not a part of Parson’s agenda, was added onto a bill that includes the other three credits. It’s sponsored by Rep. Hannah Kelly and would provide parents up to $1,800 per year, per child, in child care refunds. 

This article has been updated since it was initially published.

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Clara Bates
Clara Bates

Clara Bates covers social services and poverty. She previously wrote for the Nevada Current, where she reported on labor violations in casinos, hurdles facing applicants for unemployment benefits and lax oversight of the funeral industry. She also wrote about vocational education for Democracy Journal. Bates is a graduate of Harvard College and a member of the Report for America Corps.