Statement from Kids Win Missouri on Governor Parson Announcing the Creation of the Office of Childhood:
We are thrilled with Governor Parson’s announcement and his leadership in the creation of the Office of Childhood. This is the culmination of several years of collaborative work from partners and stakeholders throughout the state, including parents, early care and education providers, advocates, and leaders throughout state government. Child care, early learning, and home visiting programs are positive influences in the lives of our youngest children and their families, but for too long, they have been governed by a fragmented system of services that prevents us from having the greatest impact we can during these critical years of a child’s life. Through better alignment, coordination, and a guiding vision, the Office of Childhood will streamline services, better collect, monitor, and evaluate data, and meet the needs of our most vulnerable children and families while achieving the best outcomes possible. Given the prospects of increased federal funding, the infrastructure investments through the Preschool Development Grant, and the will of state leaders and advocates to not just survive through COVID, but to build back an early childhood system that best serves our children, families, and the provider workforce, momentum is on our side to make a major impact over the next few years.
The consolidation of governance between the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Social Services under the Office of Childhood is a key first step in building a high quality, sustainable system of early care and education and child care in Missouri. We know there is still a long road ahead, but there is now a clear vision of the potential impact we can have for our kids and families. Kids Win Missouri will continue to give parents, providers, and other stakeholders a seat at the table and a voice in the process as the new office begins its work and will support this collaborative effort in whatever ways we can to ensure that we deliver a comprehensive system that best serves our youngest Missourians.