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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

MO Legislation Would Help Families Afford Child Care

Worried young parent calculating bills at home
Green Miles/Ljiljana - stock.adobe.com
Fortune magazine reported in January 2022 child care expenses had risen an average of 41% from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and some families spend 20% of their income on child care.

Like others across the country, many Missouri families struggle with the cost of child care, and state lawmakers are proposing some relief.

Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove, serves Webster County, where the average childcare cost for a family with two young children is more than $12,000 a year a year. Kelly has introduced legislation to create a state childcare tax credit for parents who qualify for the federal childcare tax credit. As with federal credit, it requires having earned income.

Kelly pointed out no one who's paying attention to "everyday reality" can miss the fact young families are struggling.

"Nobody wants to give a handout, we only want to invest and give a hand up," Kelly stated. "This is money that people have earned, and we're putting it back in their pocket, once we can verify that they're making responsible choices, for their family and for their businesses."

Under House Bill 1335, individuals earning up to $75,000 a year and couples earning up to $150,000 would be eligible for a tax credit toward their childcare expenses. The amount would be $1,800 for children up to age two, and $1,200 for kids ages three to six, for a maximum of two children per family.

Kelly added the credit is nontransferable and nonrefundable, features which can make tax credits more expensive. She explained her bill allows parents to choose their childcare provider, who does not have to be licensed, but it does include limitations.

"You cannot have your spouse qualify as a daycare provider," Kelly noted. "You can't have an older child qualify. It's all very tightly run; it's all very accountable."

Kelly stressed she supports the governor's child care tax credits included in House Bill 870, sponsored by Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph.

The credits in Shields' bill would go to child care providers, corporations subsidizing their workers' child care expenses, and donors to child care centers, whereas the credits in Kelly's bill would go directly to families. Kelly feels combining the tax credits in both bills would benefit people "in every corner of the state."

The Missouri Public News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Deborah has 20 years of public radio announcing, hosting & producing in Omaha, Nebraska and has been an independent producer on the Public Radio Exchange. Deborah also taught in a variety of K-12 grades and settings in and around the Omaha area for over two decades.