Around 2000 children lacks an opening in a child care center in Boone County

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BOONE COUNTY — A study from the Center for American Progress examined the location of child care centers across eight states. The report showed 42 percent of children under five years old live in child care deserts, meaning there is a lack of child care nearby.

Missouri is not part of those eight states studied. However, it doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist in the state.

According to Childcare Aware of Missouri, an organization that provides information for parents and child care providers, “every morning Missouri parents go to work, leaving more than 300,000 children under the age of 6 with someone else.”

Some parents leave their kids at a day care center, but not every kid has the chance to find an opening. In Boone County, 1722 kids under the age of six whose parents are both employed don’t have a spot in a licensed child care facility.

Sam was five months old when his mom, Susanne Ragland, had to go back to work.

“To find a good child care facility, I called a lot of places and I was told they didn’t have opening for infants. I actually took the suggestion on a friend to look on Craigslist where I found an in-home day care.”

In-home day cares are not required to be licensed through the state if they aren’t caring for four or fewer unrelated children.

Even if there are a lot good in-home day care options, Shane Wyatt, director of End of the Rainbow Child Care facility, says, “We have actually a lot of parents that call us and ask if there is spot available because they use to have their child in an in-home child care center because it was more cost-efficient but really didn’t provide any quality for their kids. So they’re willing to pay more money for better quality.“

At End of the Rainbow, parents have to pay 248 dollars for a week of care.

“The higher the quality of a childcare is, the more expensive it is for both the parents and the business owner running the center,” says an official from Childcare Aware of Missouri.

The reason for the lack of openings in Boone County child care facilities comes down to the cost of operating a quality program. “Just like any business, it’s hard for people to become business owners in the child care facility arena. It takes lot of money to start round up, it takes time to develop a clientèle,” says Wyatt from the End of the Rainbow.

Ragland moved Sam to a licensed pre-school day care when he turned two. “Once he moved into a day care where he was just in a classroom with kids of his age group. His verbal skills picked up. He started within months talking at or above his age level. He really blossomed,” says Ragland.

Childcare Aware of Missouri wants to remind people just how important these kind of programs are for children.

“The childhood program a kid goes through has an impact on how productive citizen the kid is as he or she becomes an adult”.

“The shortage is really in the affordable high quality spots," concludes Childcare Aware.

According to Shane Wyatt, one of the things that could help out reducing the lack of opening is “more grants for child care facilities, giving people the opportunity to actually start a decent child care and turn it in a profitable business and also that’s also a high quality center.”