Elise Wesley, right, lead teacher in the infants room at the Mercy Child Development Center, is the center of attention for nine-month-old Fletcher Smith, in yellow, and 12-month-old Well Starrett. Gracie Loudis, 8 months, amuses herself and assistant teacher Morgan Stevens looks on. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

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This story is part of a series on the Child Care Crisis in Springfield and Greene County.

Why care? A severe shortage of quality child care slots — and parents confused about where to turn for information — puts some families at risk. It also adds to workforce shortages as parents scramble to find affordable care.

A community forum is set for Aug. 16 to talk about the child care crisis in Springfield and Greene County — and to share ideas about how local businesses can be a key part of the solution.

As the Springfield Daily Citizen and KY3 News have been reporting this week, a severe shortage of quality child care slots is putting families in our community at risk — and it adds to workforce shortages as parents scramble to find affordable care.

While parents and many businesses may have been aware of the seriousness of the issue, “the community at large may not understand, and may not understand the impact on our community,” said Janet Dankert, president and CEO of the Community Partnership of the Ozarks.

Dankert said the series from the Daily Citizen and KY3 “was the missing piece” in raising awareness. “We need the rest of the community to come along, and we can only do that with the help of KY3 and the Daily Citizen,” she said.

To help local businesses learn about the importance of child care issues, Community Partnership of the Ozarks, KY3 and the Daily Citizen will host a forum, including panelists talking about possible solutions to help employees. Among the topics to be discussed:

  • Underwriting child care costs as an employee benefit.
  • Providing subsidies to local child care centers to reserve slots for children of employees.
  • Considering other solutions, including employer-based child care.

Dankert said the forum is designed to “bring the business community together,” and discuss how employers can help solve the problem by taking “small bites” at the issue.

“The business community is a huge part of the solution,” she said.


This series is published in coordination with KY3 News. Watch the evening newscasts all this week on the Ozarks CW and KY3 News, or go to their website for related coverage.

Child Care and Your Bottom Line

When: Tuesday, Aug. 16

Time: 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Where: Jay Wasson Idea Loft at the eFactory, 405 N. Jefferson Ave.

The forum is free, but registration is required. Register online here

Panelists include:

  • Diane Rozier, Director of Human Resources and Safety, CNH Industrial Reman
  • Krisi Schell, Executive Vice President of Human Resources, SRC Holdings
  • Jennifer Wilhelm, Human Resources Manager, Buckhorn, Inc.
  • Sally Payne, Director of Workforce Development, City of Springfield
  • Dana Carroll, Vice President of Early Childhood and Family Development, Community Partnership of the Ozarks
  • Jennifer Crouch, Center Director, OTC Early Childhood Education Center

Jim Anderson, former longtime president of the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, will be the facilitator. Anderson is a member of the board of the Daily Citizen.

For more information, download this flyer or call the Community Partnership of the Ozarks at 417-888-2020.

“I hope that more businesses will see that there really is an opportunity to create solutions,” Dankert said of the goal for the forum.

CPO and other advocates for children in the community have a working group that focuses on child care issues, and she is hoping to get more businesses, and more child care centers, involved in “creating synergy around solutions.”

Springfield has a reputation for being a leader when it comes to solving major community problems, and this is another issue where leadership is needed, Dankert said. “And we can be that with the business community involved.”

The joint reporting project by the Daily Citizen and KY3 has been “extremely valuable in helping create awareness about this big issue,” Dankert said.

Sally Payne, Springfield’s Director of Workforce Development, will be part of the panel. She was interviewed by both the Daily Citizen and KY3 for stories in this series. 

“This whole series that you guys are doing with KY3 — we haven’t had these community conversations,” Payne said. “It is incredibly exciting and so important. 

“The timing is amazing,” she added. “These conversations are what it’s going to take to keep things moving along.”

Jackie Rehwald contributed to this story.

David Stoeffler

David Stoeffler is the chief executive officer of the Springfield Daily Citizen. He has more than 40 years experience in the news business, having been a reporter, editor and news executive in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona and Missouri. You may email him at dstoeffler@sgfcitizen.org or call 417-837-3664. More by David Stoeffler