The Moniteau Regional Economic Development Council's (MRED) Childcare and Workforce taskforce moved forward with its second step addressing the lack of available care for families in the area during a meeting on Feb. 28.
The group decided to release a survey, developed by MRED president Mike Kelley, to Moniteau County businesses asking employees their thoughts and concerns regarding day care in the area. Kelley said a representative from Cargill will also have the survey translated for the county's hispanic community as well. He said this will be shared with other businesses, such as Burgers Smokehouse.
Kelley said the survey will be released on the survey website Surveymonkey.com, afterward the taskforce will reconvene on March 28 to discuss any data that's been collected. He explained he would like the survey to be a straightforward process for employees so the committee can gain insight into how it can attend to these issues properly.
In a previous MRED meeting, it was established Moniteau County could be considered what speaker Carolyn Chrisman, owner of Chrisman Consulting, called a "child care desert" - an area with families in need of 50 spots for child care services. However, establishing childcare in any area is a complicated issue. When one aspect of the problem gets solved for one family a different aspect might remain unaddressed for another one.
"Like I told the group, child care is a several-headed monster," Kelley told the Democrat. "Because like the Catholic school in Tipton is starting a preschool, the public school (in Tipton) is thinking about starting a preschool, but then you've got from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., whenever parents commute out of the county to work and get back into the county to pick their kids up. Who's gonna watch them then?"
According to Kelley, there is no one solution for the issue, mainly because there is more demand for the service than there are providers in the area and if a business were to establish itself or expand it would have to compete with difficult expectations from regulations.
"We do have some providers in the area that want to expand but if there's no grant money to build from the ground up, there's only grant money to expand on their existing footprint, and if they don't have the land where they're at and they can't eliminate their playground area, then they won't pass state regulations either," Kelley said.
Child care providers from inside and out of Moniteau visited the meeting. Two individuals who shared their experience as providers were Anny Roll, of California Kids LLC Learning Center and Daycare, and Julie Schmitz, of Show Me Child Care Center, Inc. Kelly said Schmitz attended the meeting to provide grant guidance to local businesses.
The group discussed how it could improve the issue in Moniteau County, even citing Jefferson City's efforts between its Chamber of Commerce with local day cares. The committee meeting also discussed state grants for child care pushed by Gov. Mike Parson, a child care task force led by Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and data from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce roadmap, found by Kelley, for employers that talked about childcare.
Although no other decisions were made past the taskforce's survey, the group will continue to discuss options for childcare within Moniteau county in future meetings.