Mandy Fearday, infant assistant teacher at the Lighthouse Child and Family Development Center, reads to Amelia Meusborn, 17 months. Paige Hoeman, 16 months, listens in. (Photo by Jym Wilson)

In the early days of the pandemic, the number of spots for children at licensed day care centers in Greene County dipped by a third, a loss of nearly 3,600 slots. Many of those programs have since reopened and new facilities were created, but this community is still down about 500 slots from pre-pandemic numbers. 

In an effort to better understand the needs of families with small children, Community Partnership of the Ozarks’ Early Care and Education Collaborative has created an online survey with questions about child care. 

The survey is targeted to anyone with babies or small children or expecting — no matter if they already have child care figured out, said Dana Carroll, vice president of the collaborative. 

It asks questions like what is your home or work zip code, what hours do you need child care and how old is your child. 

This information will be used to help the Collaborative’s Workforce Development Committee work with businesses and child care providers to create solutions and add slots when and where they are needed, Carroll explained. 

The goal is to gather the information by early May and have results available before the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Business Innovation Grant application deadline of June 29, 2023. 

Grant to help child care providers add slots

This is new funding announced by Governor Mike Parson in February “for eligible child care providers and businesses and/or community partners who want to work together to expand child care in their local community.”

The grant provides funding for child care providers to increase the number of slots if they are partnered with a business or agency whose workers need child care. 

“It’s a grant where a provider can either increase the number of slots they are offering or they can start up a particular program,” Carroll explained. “One of the requirements is they have a partnership with an agency or another business. This allows us to help facilitate that, because we think there are some businesses in town that don’t want to start up their own child care but they would be willing to partner with an existing provider.”

Carroll said the grant could provide as much as $300,000 to a provider adding over 100 slots.

Several businesses are distributing the survey link to their employees. Find the link here or scan the QR code below. 

Scan the QR code to take the child care survey.

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Springfield Daily Citizen. She covers housing, homelessness, domestic violence and early childhood, among other public affairs issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald