Missouri ranks 28th in child well-being, according to the 2023 KIDS COUNT® Data Book, a 50-state report of recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation analyzing how children and families are faring. Additionally, our country’s lack of affordable and accessible child care short-changes children and causes parents in Missouri to frequently miss work or even quit their jobs, while those who can find care are paying dearly for it.

These child care challenges cost the American economy billions of dollars each year and force families to juggle professional growth opportunities and child rearing responsibilities.
“The high cost of child care is not just a financial burden on families. It is a societal issue that affects our economy, our workforce, and the future of our children. Accessible and affordable child care should be readily available and affordable for all Missourians,” said Tracy Greever-Rice, Program Director of Missouri KIDS COUNT.
The Data Book reports too many parents cannot secure child care that is compatible with work schedules and commutes. The Data Book reports that in 2020—21, 10% of Missouri children ages birth to five lived in families in which someone quit, changed, or refused a job because of problems with child care. And women are five to eight times more likely than men to experience negative employment consequences related to caregiving.

Even if parents can find an opening at child care near their home, they often can’t pay for it. Missouri’s average cost of center-based child care for a toddler was $8,862, 9% of the median income of a married couple and 28% of a single mother’s income in the state.

While the cost of care burdens families, child care workers are paid worse than 98% of professions. Median national pay for child care workers was $28,520 per year or $13.71 an hour in 2022, less than the wage for retail ($14.26) and customer service ($18.16) workers.

The failings of the child care market also affect the current and future health of the American economy, costing $122 billion a year in lost earnings, productivity and tax revenue, according to one study. All of these challenges put parents under tremendous stress to meet the dual responsibilities of providing for their families and ensuring their children are safe and nurtured.

Each year, the Data Book ranks the states according to how children are faring, presenting national and state data from 16 indicators in four domains: economic well-being (Missouri ranked 18th), education (22nd), health (35th), and family and community factors (25th). Missouri’s overall rank of 28th reflects both areas of strength and ways the state can bolster its policies that support child well-being.

"The Annie E. Casey Foundation's national Data Book provides a critical tool for policymakers, advocates, and communities to understand the challenges facing children and families across the country. We are grateful for this valuable resource that enables us to make informed decisions and take targeted actions to improve the well-being of Missouri’s families." said William Dent, Executive Director of the Family and Community Trust (FACT).

Missouri KIDS COUNT is a project of FACT, a public-private board and 20 Community Partnerships working across Missouri on programs aiming to improve family and child outcomes. ARCHS serves as the St. Louis region's FACT Missouri KIDS COUNT representative.

National Data
Missouri Data