How to Offset the Cost of Daycare in Missouri

cost of daycare in missouri

The cost of daycare in Missouri is a primary concern for many families looking for top-quality child care. The average price for center-based daycare can be over $10,000 per year – and that cost continues to rise.

The cost of daycare can be prohibitive for families struggling to make ends meet. That’s where the daycare sliding scale comes in.

A daycare sliding scale is a fee structure that allows families to pay based on their income.

This fee structure is crucial for families looking to offset the cost of daycare in Missouri.

In addition, the sliding scale can help families who are unexpectedly faced with higher daycare costs, such as when a child is sick or when there is a big change in family income.

By allowing families to pay based on their income, the sliding scale makes daycare more affordable for all families. This scale has helped to make Missouri’s childcare system one of the most affordable in the country.

The sliding scale fee is a great way to ensure that all families can afford the cost of daycare in Missouri and that children can get the highest quality education possible. In this article, we will discuss the cost of daycare in Missouri, what a sliding scale is, how it works, and how it can assist your family in obtaining the highest quality childcare possible.

What is a Daycare Sliding Scale?

In Missouri, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) funds a program that allows for a daycare sliding scale.

This scale helps to offset the cost of daycare for families who may be struggling financially.

The sliding fee portion of the sliding scale is the cost of daycare in Missouri, which the eligible family must pay directly to the childcare provider, with the caveat of children with special needs who do not have a sliding fee.

If your family’s only income is temporary assistance, or your gross income falls below 25% of the State Median Income Level, you would be required to pay only $1 annually to meet the sliding fee requirement.

The amount you pay according to your sliding fee is based on household size and adjusted gross monthly income. The sliding cost is deducted from the base rate before you pay the childcare provider.   The sliding fee varies by units of care (full, half, and part unit).

In Missouri, child care providers must meet certain standards before they can participate in the sliding fee program. To qualify as a participating provider, a center or home must be licensed by the Department of Health and Senior Services or accredited by one of several recognized accrediting groups.

These standards ensure that children receive high-quality care and that parents have peace of mind knowing their kids are well taken care of during the day.  This helps close the gap in education between families with a higher income and those with a lower income, since all children, regardless of homelife, deserve to receive the best education possible.

How the Missouri Daycare Sliding Scale Works to Lower the Cost of Daycare in Missouri

The sliding scale fee for daycare in Missouri bases the costs for childcare that families pay on income and family size.

Low-income families can receive a sliding scale fee reduction to help offset the cost of daycare.

For example, a family of four that earns over $30,000 per year would have the daycare sliding scale reduced by 10% for each additional $1,000 earned over $30,000. So, that family of four that makes $40,000 per year would pay a sliding scale fee of 20%, or $8 per day. Missouri waives the sliding scale fee for families making under $30,000 a year.

The average cost of center-based daycare in Missouri is $5,600 per year. However, with the help of the Missouri sliding scale fee, the cost of daycare in Missouri can be as low as $360 per year for low-income families.

To establish a base care rate for daycare by the county you live in, please visit the Missouri Department of Social Services, where you will locate an easy to navigate chart of the average cost of daycare across all counties in Missouri.

Determining Eligibility for the Daycare Sliding Fee in Missouri

Families must meet specific income requirements to be eligible for the daycare sliding scale program.  As previously discussed, the amount of assistance a family can receive toward the cost of daycare in Missouri will depend on their income level and the number of children in the family.

If you’d like to get an idea of your eligibility, families can find out if they are eligible for this program by contacting their local DESE office.

The staff at DESE can help families apply for the program and determine how much assistance they qualify for.  The department also has a website that provides more information about the daycare sliding scale and other assistance programs available to families to offset the cost of daycare in Missouri.

Next, we will discuss determining your eligibility unit and monthly gross income amount to help you understand beforehand your potential eligibility for Missouri subsidy programs.

What is an Eligibility Unit?

The eligibility unit is the basis, along with gross income, for admission into the daycare sliding fee system in Missouri, as well as determining how much assistance the eligibility unit will receive towards the cost of daycare in Missouri.

The definition of an eligibility unit is the head of household and all individuals living in the home, which the head of household claims as dependents on federal taxes.  For most, this will be the “family unit” with whom they and their child live.

For example, a family of four with two children would have an eligibility unit of four people.

If a family has more than four people, they can still qualify for the sliding scale if their income falls within the 185% percentage of the Federal Poverty Level.

How is my Monthly Income Amount Determined?

The Department of Social Services defines monthly gross income as the average monthly amount of total income received by all members of the eligibility unit before deductions.

The total gross income includes income from all sources including, but not limited to:

  • Wages
  • Adjusted gross income from self-employment
  • Adjusted gross income from farm income
  • Social security
  • Dividends
  • Interest

When determining your monthly income amounts from each income source, it is essential to carefully evaluate how long you intend for that income to last, for example, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

For example, if your family brings in $10,000 in total, but that must cover the entire month, it is a very different thing to a family who is bringing in $10,000 that only needs to cover them for a week, after which they would expect to receive another $10,000.

How long your total income amounts will last will significantly impact how much help you will be eligible to receive to help with the cost of daycare in Missouri, so you must ensure your calculations in the next step are correct.

How to Determine Your Monthly Household Income

To convert income to a monthly amount when you receive your monthly income on less than a monthly basis, multiply the income you have received weekly by 4.333 to determine your monthly income amount.

Multiply income received every two weeks (bi-weekly pay) by 2.166.

Multiply income received on a semi-monthly basis (bi-monthly pay) by two.

The family is eligible if the household income is below the income maximums listed on the income guidelines.

How to Locate a Center that Participates with the Missouri Daycare Sliding Scale

If you’re looking for a daycare that participates in the sliding fee scale program, you can do a few things.

First, check with your local Department of Social Services.  They likely have a list of participating daycares in your area.  You can also search online for “daycare sliding fee” or “cost of daycare in Missouri.”  Performing this search will bring up websites and articles that list participating daycares in Missouri.

The best way to determine if a particular daycare participates in the sliding fee scale is to contact them directly.

Many daycares have information on their website about whether they participate in the program.  If they don’t, you can always call them or email them to ask if they participate in any subsidies to help families with the cost of daycare in Missouri.

Even if a particular daycare doesn’t participate in the sliding fee scale program, there’s no need to panic.  Many daycares offer discounts or payment plans based on need and multiple other subsidy opportunities in Missouri.  However, all licensed early child care centers in Missouri should participate with the Missouri daycare sliding scale.

The daycare sliding scale is just one way that Missouri helps families with the cost of daycare.  Other programs include the Child Care Subsidy Program and the School-Age Child Care Program.

The Child Care Subsidy Program provides financial assistance to low-income families to afford quality child care.  The School-Age Child Care Program offers free or discounted rates for before- and after-school care.

These programs are essential because they help to ensure that all families have access to quality child care.

The cost of daycare can be prohibitive for some families, but these programs make it more affordable.  By offering various assistance programs, Missouri can meet the needs of all families seeking childcare.

You can find more information on the Subsidy and the School-Age Child care programs by visiting the Child Care Aware® of Missouri website.

Why the Daycare Sliding Scale is so Critical for Families looking to Offset the Cost of Daycare in Missouri?

There are numerous reasons the daycare sliding scale is an essential part of Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education program.

The sliding scale fee helps to create more equality in Missouri’s childcare system.  There is a large gap between the cost of daycare in Missouri for wealthy families and the cost of daycare in Missouri for low-income families.  The sliding scale fee helps close this gap and ensures that all families have access to affordable care.

The sliding scale also helps the Missouri workforce.  By giving parent’s the opportunity to place their children in safe, affordable child care, they can go out and work to provide for their families, helping to stop the cycle of poverty in its tracks.

The sliding fee scale also benefits businesses in Missouri.  By providing affordable daycare, the state helps businesses to attract and retain top talent.  This is important because companies need access to quality child care to be successful.

A Recap of Why the Missouri Daycare Sliding Scale is so Important

When attempting to find affordable daycare in Missouri, the sliding fee scale is one of the essential tools’ parents have at their disposal.  It is a crucial resource for families seeking affordable, quality daycare.

This program allows parents to pay according to their income level, making the cost of daycare in Missouri more accessible for those with limited resources.  By providing this supportive system, Missouri recognizes the importance of early childhood education and ensures that all children have access to high-quality care.

Whether you are a working parent, stay-at-home parent, or simply looking for childcare options in your area, the sliding scale can help make the cost of daycare in Missouri more affordable and accessible for all families.

With the proper support, you can give your child the best possible start in life by ensuring they receive high-quality care and early learning opportunities.

If you’re a parent in Missouri who’s looking for quality child care services while offsetting the cost of daycare in Missouri, consider applying for the sliding fee program today.

With flexible payment options based on income level and family size, you’re sure to find a quality daycare provider that meets your needs!

If you are looking for daycare in Missouri and aren’t sure where to start, reach out to the team at Child Care Aware today, who will happily get you pointed in the right direction.