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story.lead_photo.caption Show Me Child Care Center founder and Director Julie Schmitz and Gov. Mike Parson watch as first lady Theresa Parson plays with children at the center Tuesday in Jefferson City. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

The News Tribune is offering this article free to all readers because it includes information important to public safety and health in our community.

Gov. Mike Parson is visiting child care facilities across Missouri this week, and he started with Show Me Child Care in Jefferson City on Tuesday.

Parson said he's visiting child care facilities to see what the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding meant to these facilities, what impact the pandemic has had on them and how prepared they are if school were to close again to determine what resources they need.

Child care providers that were open to essential employees were provided one-time CARES Act payments of $4 million. This funding went to 1,374 providers in Missouri. The Parson Administration has paid 2,300 child care providers for their full authorization amount and plans to continue this payment through August, said Kelli Jones, communications director for Gov. Parson.

Show Me Child Care had a drop in attendance in March which decreased revenue, so the CARES Act funding kept everyone employed, Show Me Child Care employee Gavin Schmitz said.

"That's exactly what we wanted some of the money to go toward," Parson said.

If there is another closure, Show Me Child Care would not have enough employees to support a large increase in school-age children, Schmitz said.

Child care centers could also face an increase in children as more people continue to return to work.

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"That's one thing we're trying to work through as we move forward," Parson said. "We want people to go to work, but we got to figure out, how do we provide the day care for that?"

Parson said he's worried about another school closure while people are returning to work, causing child care centers to become overwhelmed.

"We don't want to have that opportunity to get people back into the workforce and it can't be able to provide the day care for their kids," he said.

Show Me Child Care Center Owner Julie Schmitz said many parents are faced with the challenge of what to do in that scenario.

"One of the hardest questions to answer for the parents is, 'Why is it safe for my child to come to you and not at the school?' and that's really a challenge," she said.

Parson also asked the employees what the state can better do to help them, and Julie Schmitz said she would like a better communication tool between child care centers and the state because sometimes it takes weeks to receive a response.

"The turnaround time for communication is not effective," she said.

Parson said it's important to him child care centers are able to provide for all children who need it.

"You just want to make sure they're available for those kids to go there and parents got a safe place to take their kids," he said.

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