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Low State Payments Cause Springfield Day Care Center to Close

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/lowstatepa_53.mp3

With nearly 12-thousand children in Missouri's foster system, day care providers play an important role for foster parents.

However, some day care providers refuse to accept many foster children because they lose too much money.

KSMU's Christy Hendricks reports how low payments from the state are causing one Springfield day care owner to lose her business.

A day care owner in Springfield says she will have to shut down because of payments too little and too late from the state of Missouri.

Christina Bowgen owns Christina's Kids Day Care in Springfield.

She says as of December 29th, she will no longer accept foster children at her facility because the state doesn't pay enough to cover her operating fees.

Bowgen says she has over 30 foster kids currently enrolled in her day care and that the state is often late reimbursing her for those children.

She says many day care providers only accept a limited number of foster children.

Christina Bowgen says the state owes her about eight thousand dollars for children from six months ago.

She says she often gets about 40-percent less than her normal fees from the Missouri's Division of Family Services for caring for foster children.

Christina's Kids Day Care opened four years ago, but Bowgen says she has no choice but to sell her business to pay for debt she accumulated because state payments don't cover her costs.

Jody Guyer has adopted three children and currently has one foster child living with her.

She says she doesn't know what she will do when Christina's Kids Day Care closes its doors.

Guyer has a son who is autistic and says many day cares don't have proper training for special needs kids.

Ana Compain-Romero is the director of communications for the Department of Social Services in Jefferson City.

She says she does not have any direct knowledge about Christina's Kids closing, but says the subsidy system is a problem.

Compain-Romero says the reimbursements are meant to assist with expenses.

According to a state auditor's report from 2003, Missouri ranks as one of the lowest in payments for foster children and pays foster parents less than 50-percent of the cost to raise a child.

Other day care facilities in the Southwest Missouri have acknowledged similar problems with collecting payments for foster children.