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)

It seems every parent has a story to tell when it comes to the subject of child care. Even folks whose children have long since flown the nest will unprompted offer a story of their own difficulties, or sometimes a bad experience, in securing a safe place for their children to stay while the parents went off to work.

As we are about to tell you, in a series of stories starting on Sunday afternoon, things have gotten worse. Much worse.

In collaboration with KY3 News, the Springfield Daily Citizen is bringing you a special series called Child Care Crisis. We try not to use that word “crisis” lightly, but think you will agree after you see our reporting.

What we found: 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.

In coordinating our coverage with KY3, our goal is to shine a spotlight on the issue of child care.

And, by working with community organizations, such as the Community Partnership of the Ozarks, we aim to encourage conversation that will lead to positive action and more solutions. 

Along the way, we also will have tips for parents struggling to find care — and will tell you about a new resource coming soon that is developing partly as an outcome of our work.

About the series

To coordinate our work with KY3, we are breaking from our usual publication schedule.

The Daily Citizen will publish new stories each mid-afternoon, beginning Sunday and running through Thursday, and cap off the series on Friday. You can check our website after 3 p.m. each day starting Sunday – or just wait for our regular morning newsletter, which will highlight the newest stories available each day.

KY3 is making a major commitment to the series. It will air its series of reports on evening newscasts, starting Sunday at 9 p.m. on the Ozarks CW and 10 p.m. on KY3 News. Subsequent reports will air weekdays on newscasts at 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10 p.m., with the final reports on Friday. See the entire KY3 series on their website.

Here is an outline of the Daily Citizen series:

  • Sunday — An overview of the crisis facing parents, child care providers and employers in Springfield and Greene County.
  • Monday — A focus on the failing business model for child care centers.
  • Tuesday — How a lack of options leads parents to make risky choices for child care.
  • Wednesday — Tips and resources for parents, including a new website coming soon.
  • Thursday — We begin exploring a range of local solutions to the crisis, and how you can take action.
  • Friday — Information about an upcoming community forum focusing on ideas for local businesses that want to be part of the solution.

Daily Citizen public affairs reporters Jackie Rehwald and Cory Matteson have devoted a significant part of the past three months working on our reports, with photos from freelance photographer Jym Wilson and added graphics support from Shannon Cay Bowers, our digital media assistant. The series is edited by myself and Managing Editor Brittany Meiling.

This is our second collaborative effort with KY3. We previously coordinated coverage of the exodus of teachers from Springfield Public Schools.

A catalyst for good

As a nonprofit news organization, the Springfield Daily Citizen is committed to doing more than simply informing the community and providing in-depth news about the issues you care most about.

We want to be a catalyst for good and inspire the citizens of metro Springfield to take action.

As I have shared in previous columns, a key part of the Daily Citizen’s mission is to provide regular in-depth reports that delve into issues people care most about. We take cues from community-led efforts to identify issues, such as the biennial Community Focus Report for Springfield and Greene County. In the 2021 report, child care issues were highlighted in the Early Childhood section.

It has been five months since our launch. The Child Care Crisis project is our most ambitious effort to date. We hope you will read it, discuss it and find ways to support efforts by business leaders and child advocates to address these issues. The series will include information on how you can take action.

To repeat something we said in introducing ourselves to the community: We believe good journalism brings issues to light, but great journalism brings communities together.

Please let me know what you think of our special report on the child care crisis, or contact me about any other comments or questions you may have about the Daily Citizen. My phone and email are listed below.

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