Nixon Proposes $17 Million to MO Early Childhood Education

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COLUMBIA - Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is proposing restoring funding to the state's early childhood education programs, funding that was slashed last year. Gov. Nixon outlined his $17 million plan in Monday's State of the State address. 

Missouri's Early Head Start programs which received cuts last May, will be allotted $3.5 million of the early childhood funding.

Early Head Start provides low-income families with children three years old and under with child care, developmental resources, health care, and prenatal care.

The program also helps parents plan ways to budget for their family, to find employment and housing opportunities and eventually be independent of state programs all together.

Last year Missouri's Early Head Start program's budget was cut in half resulting in less spots for families.

"When our funding was cut last year we went from having 40 slots available for infants and toddlers in our Early Head Start program to 14 spots which means we literally had to call 26 families and say 'Due to our funding cuts you will no longer have child care in 30 days,'" said Melody Vieth, child development administrator for Columbia's Early Head Start program.

Vieth said more than 100 families are currently on the waiting list. She said she was worried the program would see even more cuts next year.

"We watched [Gov. Nixon's] State of the State Address very closely, had some meeting before and afterwards about what his proposals might mean to our program and if funding does go through and were able to receive the additional funding that would allow us to restore those slots that were cut last May," Vieth said.

"We want every child in every Missouri community no matter their family's circumstances to get the best possible start. That's why with an increase of $17 million we'll more than double funding for Missouri Preschool Program and put more money in to programs like head start." Nixon said.

"It gave us a ray of hope because when were not just investing in those particular children were investing in our future workforce," Vieth said.

Vieth said the additional funding isn't enough to create new programs but it is enough to make room for more families.