The Mississippi Early Learning Alliance is thrilled to announce that we are finalists in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Solve Challenge. The Solve Challenge is an initiative that provides funding to social entrepreneurs who are using technology to solve today’s most pressing problems. It’s is a competitive process that attracts candidates from around the world, and all candidates must offer innovative and scalable solutions to major social challenges. MELA is a finalist in “The Care Economy” category of the challenge, and our solution focuses on how we can leverage our shared services platform, Mississippi Early Learning Resources, to help childcare center owners and directors offer their employees dental, vision, telemedicine, and other key benefits at a cost that won’t break centers’ budgets.
We’ve heard from childcare providers across the state that keeping qualified, high-quality teachers on staff is a major challenge. Frequently, teachers cite pay and lack of benefits as a reason cited for seeking other opportunities. However, employer-sponsored health or retirement benefits are often too costly for centers to provide – it’s hard to find employee benefits packages that fit into childcare center budgets.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing: MELA is working to give childcare centers affordable options for providing some health and wellness benefits to their employees, including dental, vision, and telemedicine coverage. We are working to expand and promote the services and cost-savings that our shared services site, MSEarlyLearningResources.org, offers. The site already include some healthcare coverage options, and we are hoping to offer childcare directors affordable pathways to providing retirement benefits as well. This will allow childcare providers to save costs and offer more competitive benefit packages to employees, which may reduce staff turnover. Meanwhile, more childcare workers will have access to the health, wellness, and financial services they need – all without raising childcare costs for families.
We Need Your Help!
While this is an ongoing effort within MELA, we know that receiving help and funding through the MIT Solve Challenge would accelerate our progress and help us expand benefits for the childcare workforce more quickly and effectively. You can help us get there by voting for our solution! All you have to do is make an account (you just need an email address and password) to vote, and make sure to vote before September 17, 2022.