A Mississippi lawmaker say it's time to make low-income childcare a top priority in the state. As MPB's Desare Frazier reports, he's calling on lawmakers and state agencies to address the issues.
Mississippi legislators in the House are holding hearings to learn how the Department of Human Services manages the Childcare Payment System. The program provides certificates to low-income families to help pay for childcare. House Democrat Cheikh Taylor of Starkville owns a daycare center. He says more than 20,000 people are on the state's waiting list. Taylor says it's keeping many Mississippians from working because childcare can be hundreds of dollars per month.
"This is an economic development problem. This is a workforce development problem and it's a security problem when it comes to having your child in a safe place when you go to work," said Taylor.
DHS Executive Director John Davis explains there are about 22,000 families receiving childcare assistance. He says the federal government provides about $60 million and the state kicks-in $2 million. In 2016, Mississippi missed out on an additional $13 million from the feds because DHS didn't have the $7 million needed in matching funds. John Davis.
"That was 2016, 2017, 2018, not going to happen. We've got private public partnerships now. We've got private companies willing to put up the match," said Davis.
Carol Burnett with the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative is glad to hear that. A child has to come off the daycare rolls to sign-up another child for the service.
"They're beginning to issue childcare certificates on the waiting list. They're beginning to update contact information," said Burnett.
Representative Cheikh Taylor says lawmakers from both parties are concerned about the issue. Another hearing is planned for this week.