Special Report
January 27, 2021
Plans for Office of Childhood announced
At today's annual Missouri State-of-the-State address, Governor Mike Parson announced his intention to create an office devoted to early learning and child development by consolidating several different programs spread across three state agencies into one new office, the Office of Childhood

"This new office will not only help streamline the operation of several state programs, but also allow us to place a bigger focus on early childhood development, a critical component to the future success of Missourians for the generations to come,"
 said Parson.

"I have said many times that our children are the workforce of tomorrow. And if we are to truly make a difference in their lives, it starts with early childhood development." he added.

Governor Parson will hold a press conference tomorrow, January 28th at 3:00 p.m., to discuss the new Office of Childhood and will be joined by Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Margie Vandeven, Department of Health and Senior Services Director Dr. Randall Williams, and Department of Social Services Acting Director Jennifer Tidball

The press conference will be live-streamed on Governor Parson's Facebook page

Darlene Sowell of Unleashing Potential.  Photo credit: Office of the Governor
In August of 2020, the governor toured Unleashing Potential, an early childhood education centers in St. Louis and witnessed how child care professionals worked hard to adapt to the challenges exacerbated by COVID-19. He used his annual address to introduce Darlene Sowell, president and CEO and Denise Carter, director of early childhood education of Unleashing Potential and highlighted their efforts to adapt to pandemic-related challenges.

We will share more details on the new office in our weekly update.
Governor Parson delivers annual address in Senate Chamber due to COVID-19 concerns.
Photo Credit: Office of the Governor
State of the State Budget Highlights
Governor Parson released a budget brief today which includes notable education-related increases and new spending.

We have copied some of the highlights from his report below.

K-12 and Higher Education

Fully Fund the Education Formula - $8.5 million
Funding the state's elementary and secondary education formula, bringing the base foundation funding for public education to more than $3.56 billion.

Four-Year Colleges and Universities - $67.5 million
Restoring ongoing core funding for the state's four-year higher education institutions, bringing funding back to pre-pandemic levels.

State Technical College of Missouri - $549,415 
Restoring ongoing core funding for the State Technical College of Missouri, bringing funding back to pre-pandemic levels.

Community Colleges Associate Degree Expansion - $250,000 
Providing start-up costs for five community colleges to increase associate degree offerings in health care. The costs would include student and staff recruitment, materials, and other start-up expenses to expand Applied Science degrees in Behavioral Health Support programs to more community colleges. Student tuition would cover the ongoing costs of the program.

School innovation waivers - $1 million
Creating "innovation waivers" schools or districts may apply for which provide exemptions from certain provisions of state law, in order for the schools or districts to improve students readiness and job training or improve teacher recruitment and development. This funding will help support school innovation teams in implementing their waivers approved by the State Board of Education.

Early Education

Early childhood special education increase - $8.4 million
Covering the cost increases for special education, including transportation and personnel costs.

Parent Education and Developmental Screening Services - $2 million
Increasing parent education and developmental screening services for young children. This funding serves families based on their needs and discovers eligibility to the First Steps Early Intervention and Parents as Teachers programs.

Comprehensive Literacy Program - $4.4 million
Expanding funding for literacy through a newly awarded grant from the Office of Well Rounded Education Programs in the U.S. Department of Education. The grant will help development a comprehensive literacy program to advance pre-literacy skills, reading, and writing for children from birth through grade 12 with an emphasis on disadvantaged children, including children living in poverty, English learners, and children with disabilities.

Scholarship Funds for Missouri Universities & Colleges
A+ Schools Program - $13.2 million
Providing scholarship funds to eligible graduates of A+ designated high schools who attend a participating public community college, public vocational or technical school, or certain private two-year vocational or technical schools. The scholarship will reimburse, within certain limits, the unpaid balance of tuition and general fees after all available, non-loan federal financial assistance has been applied.

Bright Flight - $3.9 million
Maintaining full funding for the Academic Scholarship Program Bright Flight. This is a merit-based program that encourages top-ranked high school seniors (those scoring in the top three percent on the ACT or SAT) to attend approved Missouri postsecondary schools. Awards will be maintained at $3,000 per student. Bright Flight will support an estimated 8,063 students in FY 2022, and an increase of 80 over FY 2021.

Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant Program - $2.7 million
Funding the projected amount necessary to continue the Fast Track scholarship program. Fast Track addresses workforce needs by encouraging adults to pursue a certificate, degree, or industry-recognized credential in a workforce area as high-demand.

Access Missouri Scholarship Program - $2.5 million
Providing need-based financial aid scholarships to eligible Missouri residents for higher education degree obtainment. Recipients must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 and otherwise maintain satisfactory academic progress.
More details to come

Stay tuned as we will have further information on the Office of Childhood for you. This is an exciting development that we believe will improve services for children and families throughout Missouri.

All the best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442