Event | Event | April 12, 2024

Joplin-Area Police Chiefs Raise the Alarm on Crisis Facing the Early Care and Education Workforce

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Released a Report on Early Education Teachers in Missouri

JOPLIN, MO- Missouri Chiefs of Police joined Head Start Missouri today to release the report “Child Care Educators Set Missouri’s Young Kids on the Path to Success.” The report details the shocking realities many childcare providers and parents face when seeking care for their young children.

Last year, Missouri lawmakers took great steps towards helping fix the problems outlined in the report through investments in early childhood care and education, but more needs to be done. Quality child care, particularly for infants and toddlers, is unavailable or unaffordable for many families, especially those with low incomes. One of the main drivers of this crisis is inadequate compensation and subpar working conditions for early educators, which result in high levels of turnover, impacting the availability and quality of programs.

Joplin Chief of Police Richard Pearson, Bolivar Chief of Police Mark Webb, and Pierce City Chief of Police Michael Abramovitz spoke at the event. They were joined by Leisa Harnar and Kelly Creech of the North Joplin Head Start/Early Head Start, part of the Economic Security Corporation of South West Missouri.

“When children lack the strong foundation they need, they often struggle to stay on a good path – leading some of them to come into contact with the criminal justice system when they are teens or adults. I’m grateful to have high-quality early childhood centers like this Head Start here in Joplin. At the same time, there are more investments we need on the state level to make the system sustainable. I’m here today to support the message that investments in young kids are also investments in public safety,” said Richard Pearson, Joplin Chief of Police.

“I’ve seen many law enforcement officers–including those in my department–struggle to find high-quality child care for their infants and toddlers. The lack of quality child care has even led to our department losing great officers. So I know firsthand the need for more investments in child care quality, access, and affordability: not just to expand services for officers, but to increase access for families across the state,“ said Mark Webb, Bolivar Chief of Police.

“Fight Crime: Invest in Kids’ new report emphasizes the importance of quality care. To have high-quality early childhood programs, we need highly qualified teachers who are well-educated and trained, experienced- and adequately compensated. We need more investments in early childhood education programs and its workforce. By investing in affordable, high-quality early childhood education programs, we are investing in a safer, more prosperous future for Missouri and its families,” said Michael Abramovitz, Pierce City Chief of Police.

The law enforcement leaders of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids know that early childhood education programs are necessary to help end this crisis and a powerful way to give kids the right start in life and help them avoid becoming involved in crime later. Fight Crime: Invest in Kids recommends supporting early childhood investments in the state budget this year — including expanded child care tax credits and pre-K access, and a child care subsidy rate increase.

After the event, the Chiefs read to children.

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