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Missouri

Our lead ally in Missouri, Kids Win Missouri, is a non-partisan, statewide coalition working to support child well-being. Through education, collaboration and advocacy, the organization advances policies and system changes on issues including early childhood development, education, health, child safety and family economic security.

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2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 40% (256,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 46% (306,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

On June 30, Missouri Governor Michael Parson completed signing the 20 bills that comprise the state’s fiscal 2024 budget. The budget calls for $52.9 billion in total spending after recommended vetoes, a 32.5 percent increase. The increase in total spending is largely due to higher spending from federal funds; federal funds are estimated to grow $9.8 billion in fiscal 2024, or 63.9 percent. General revenue spending is projected to be $15.7 billion after vetoes, $3.4 billion, or 24.4 percent, more than fiscal 2023. Other funds are estimated at $12.7 billion in fiscal 2024, a $335 million, or 2.6 percent, increase from fiscal 2023. When signing the budget, the governor issued 201 line item vetoes, totaling $555.3 million .3

Largest Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers) (FY 2021):4

    • Charges: $1,370 per capita
    • Property Taxes: $1,337 per capita

Charges are public payments connected with a specific government service, such as tuition paid to a state university, payments to a public hospital, or highway tolls. Missouri uses all major state and local taxes.

Permanent State Funding Stream Dedicated to Early Childhood: Yes

The Missouri Preschool Program offers five-year renewable grants to state establish or expand early learning programs. The program receives funding from a portion of the annual Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement funds ($35 million a year).

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  Six

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – An amendment to a state’s constitution that comes about through the initiative process.
    • Legislature-Initiated State Statutes – Appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-Initiated State Statute – Earns a spot on the ballot when sponsors collect signatures according to the laws governing the initiative process in Missouri.
    • Veto Referenda – When citizens of Missouri disagree with a statute or legislative bill enacted by the state legislature, they can collect signatures to force the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are collected, the bill is placed on the statewide ballot.
    • Automatic Ballot Referrals – In Missouri, by law, every twenty years the question of whether to hold a constitutional convention appears on the ballot.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

Missouri’s 2023 legislative session produced historic early childhood policy wins for children and families. Collaboration between child advocates, business and community leaders, families, providers, and legislators and the leadership of Governor Mike Parson resulted in more than $160 million in new investments and policies that will support the health and well-being of children and families.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

HB 2: The legislature approved a historic increase of $78.5 million to raise child care subsidy reimbursement rates to the 58th percentile per the most recent market rate survey. The increased subsidies take effect in July 2023. Prior to the increase, Missouri’s child care subsidy rates were among the lowest in the nation, ranging from 21st to the 25th percentiles depending on a child’s age. 

HB 2 also includes improved access to the child care subsidy program by improving the current transitional benefit program for families who initially qualify for the traditional subsidy program and by creating a statutory framework that, if funded in future years, will provide benefits to families who do not qualify for the state’s traditional subsidy program but have incomes between 150-200% of federal poverty level. Appropriations language eases families’ access to the current transitional benefits program and SB 106 and SB 45/90 contain language which provide transitional benefits for child care, SNAP, and TANF. These provisions create a “step-down” of benefits until the participant reaches 200% of the federal poverty level.

HB 20: Policymakers appropriated a total of $82 million in new pre-K investments, including an additional $56 million for grants to local education agencies (traditional public and charter schools) and $26 million for grants to child care facilities to support pre-K education. The new funding prioritizes children who qualify for free and reduced lunch and will help support pre-K education for more than 12,000 children. (The legislature included funding for local education agencies in HB 20 and funding for child care facilities in HB 2.)
 
Expanded Postpartum Coverage: Missouri continued its multi-year effort to support health coverage access for mothers by approving a statutory change that would allow Missouri to opt-in to the federal program supporting postpartum coverage. Missouri has the 7th highest maternal mortality rate in the country and Black women are three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes as White women. The new law will provide continued coverage to more than 4,000 women in the state and help address racial disparities in maternal mortality. The provision was included in SB 45/90 as well as SB 106.
 
HB 5: Policymakers invested $3 million in the state’s home visiting system, with $2 million dedicated to evidence-based home visiting programs and an additional $1 million for funding for Regional Collective Impact Sites. Ultimately, the $2 million for evidence-based home visiting was vetoed by the Governor, while the collective impact site funding was maintained. The Collective Impact Sites will coordinate home visiting programs in their communities, administer a referral system, provide training, and support serving high-risk families.
 
HB 11: The legislature appropriated $500,000 to support access to legal assistance for kinship care providers. Kinship care is an alternative to foster care, allowing children whose parents are unable to care for them to live with relatives or non-related kin. This type of arrangement is less traumatic for children, allowing for greater stability and continued connections to their family and culture. The $500,000 to support legal assistance for kinship providers was ultimately vetoed.
 
Missouri’s governor proposed a package of tax credits for child care totaling $60 million, including a 75% tax credit for contributions to child care facilities, a 30% tax credit for employers to support child care for their employees, and a tax credit for child care providers. These tax credits had momentum but fell short of passage due to disagreements and filibusters related to other issues.

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Missouri, Kids Win Missouri, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Preschool and Pre-K

K-3rd Grade

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Child and
Maternal Health

Infant & Child Health

Maternal Health

Early Intervention (Age 0-3)

Family
Supports

Family Economic Security

Home Visiting

Early Childhood Infrastructure

Financing

Click here, here and here for more information on advocates’ policy agenda.

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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