The Mississippi Early Learning Alliance (MELA), the University of Mississippi’s Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning and other early care and education professionals across the state have been working together to gather data and community input on policies that would immediately help to meet the childcare needs of working parents and caregivers. These partners have identified two foundational strategies:
- Increase the supply of qualified early educators in childcare setting by increasing teacher pay.
- Reduce childcare costs for working parents and families.
The policy recommendations listed on this page will be shared during the Mississippi Senate Study Group on Women, Children and Families’ public hearing focused on childcare availability on October 25, 2022. The study group, chaired by Senator Nicole Boyd, was appointed by Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann in the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision. The lawmakers are tasked with making legislative recommendations related to families and young children from birth to 3 years old, and they are using four public meetings to hear from expert speakers on how the state can best support families. All hearing are available on the Mississippi Legislature’s YouTube channel.
We Can Recruit & Retain Qualified Teachers in Childcare Settings
We need Mississippi to invest funds in strategies & programs that make entering and staying in the childcare industry a competitive choice for qualified Mississippi workers. This means paying childcare teachers a wage closer to that of other early educators, such as teachers in school-based prekindergarten classrooms.
However, we know that raising tuition rates is not a solution that will work for Mississippi families, as childcare is already not affordable for many families making the median income in our state. Other states have successfully encouraged teacher retention by offering a wage supplement for childcare workers that gets pay closer to the starting school-based prekindergarten salary.
We Can Reduce Childcare Costs for Working Parents & Families
We know that childcare programs are already operating on thin margins, and reducing tuition rates for families would threaten many childcare centers’ ability to remain open. Reducing rates is not a viable option for these small businesses. However, there are other ways to reduce costs for families.
- The Child Care Payment Program (funded through the federal Child Care Development Fund) exists to help make childcare more affordable for parents with the fewest resources. We need to ensure that our working parents with the greatest need face as few barriers as possible to accessing this program. One barrier that could be immediately removed by the Governor is the requirement that single parents cooperate with child support enforcement rules to be eligible for the program.
- Many Mississippi residents do not qualify for CCPP assistance, but are still paying more than 7% of their income on childcare. These families also need help reducing childcare costs. Mississippi can bolster the economic stability of working families by creating a refundable Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. These types of credits exist in 15 states, including Louisiana and Arkansas. With these credits, families receive up to 50% of what they spend for childcare back as a tax credit, which encourages parents to remain in the workforce.
While these policy recommendations were created in preparation for these hearings, we are committed to amplifying for short- and long-term policy solutions to recruit and retain qualified childcare teachers and make childcare more affordable for working families. You can download a one-page summary of these recommendations using the button at right.
Share Your Support!
When we speak with a unified voice, we send a loud and clear message to policymakers in Mississippi. We created a toolkit to make it easier for our partners and supporters to spread the word and raise awareness about these issue and policy recommendations. In the toolkit, you’ll find:
- Press Release
- Guidance for how to share your thoughts and experiences using a Letter to the Editor or Op-Ed (opinion editorial)
- Sample social media posts for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
We hope that you will use the social media posts on your business or organizational social media accounts and your personal accounts, and will consider submitting something to your local newspaper. If you aren’t sure where to send your Letter to the Editor or Op-Ed, check out our list of Mississippi media contacts using the button below!