Working Group: Quality Support System for Childcare

Learn how we're gathering recommendations for a statewide quality support system from childcare providers.

This working group was assembled to create recommendations for a statewide Quality Support System for childcare that works for Mississippi children, families, and childcare providers. These recommendations were crafted and authored by a team of approximately 20 childcare providers, with guidance and support from other early childhood professionals, as well as input from Mississippi parents via focus group. These recommendations were shared with the Mississippi Department of Human Services in early fall of 2022. The intention of this process was to create recommendations for a Quality Support System that are rooted in the lived experiences of providers, family needs and preferences, and research-based best practices. This project launched in May 2022, and ended with the report submission in fall 2022. However, quality support system work in Mississippi does not end with this report – the Mississippi Department of Human Services will lead the next two phases of this work – learn more in the “Future Work” section below.

Project Deliverable: Recommendations Report

The final project deliverable was a report that was submitted to the Mississippi Department of Human Services to inform the department’s planning and design efforts around a Quality Support System for childcare.

This report includes overarching recommendations for:

  • What must be true of a quality support system for it to benefit Mississippi families and providers.
  • Key considerations and guiding principles to help ensure that the Quality Support System is sustainable, equitable, and effective.
  • A general structure or organizing framework for the system.

The Recommendations Report will not prescribe a specific quality support model for Mississippi. It will not apply a pre-existing model from another state or resurrect a previous quality model used in Mississippi. This report will also not include specific instructions for how to design or implement a quality support system. The recommendations are intended to serve as guideposts and high-level benchmarks that will be referenced throughout all phases of Mississippi’s work to build an effective quality support system.

Working Group Structure

This working group consisted of three team: the Convening Team, the Advisory Team, and the Recommendations Team. These teams also remained in communication with outside entities and partners as needed.

Recommendations Team

The Recommendations Team was responsible for crafting the overall recommendations. This team consisted entirely of childcare providers, and members were selected via a statewide application process. The Convening Team followed a data-informed selection process to ensure that Recommendations Team membership met the following criteria:

  • Reflective of Mississippi’s diverse childcare community in terms of geographic, racial, and ethnic representation, subsidy acceptance, program size, and business type (home-based, center-based, or other).
  • Able to attend three multi-day meetings during June and July.
  • Enthusiastic, innovative, and knowledgeable of the childcare system and quality improvement concepts.

Convening Team

The Convening Team was responsible for maintaining the overall structure of this project and keeping it moving forward to meet the fall 2022 deadline. They were responsible for recruiting members for the other two project teams (Advisory and Recommendations teams), facilitating all meetings and focus groups, and synthesizing findings throughout the process. This team was also responsible for all project communications.

  • Todd Klunk
    W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Debi Mathias
    BUILD Initiative
  • Heather Hanna
    Social Science Research Center
  • Callie Poole
    Social Science Research Center
  • Bradley Long
    Social Science Research Center
  • Angela Bass
    Mississippi Early Learning Alliance
  • Biz Harris
    Mississippi Early Learning Alliance
  • Chloe Lake
    Mississippi Early Learning Alliance
  • LaTasha Hadley
    Loving Hands Educational Services
  • Stephanie Gehres
    Child Care State Capacity Building Center
  • Daisy Carter
    Excel by 5
  • Gaby Kelley
    Parent Representative
  • Tamara Smith
    Little Samaritan Montessori
  • Micayla Tatum
    Mississippi First

Advisory Team

The Advisory Team consisted of early childhood professionals and advocates who bring a wealth of institutional knowledge in early care and education to the table. The Convening Team recruited Advisory Team members individually, based on members’ established influence within the early childhood community. This team provided suggestions for and reflections on both this process and quality support systems in general, based on their understanding of national research and practices, as well as their own historical knowledge and lessons learned from previous quality improvement efforts in Mississippi. The Convening Team used their suggestions and reflections to facilitate more productive and informed conversations with the Recommendations Team, and to adapt project communications and structure as necessary.

  • Alicia Westbrook
    Mississippi Early Childhood Inclusion Center
  • Amber May
    Mississippi Statewide Afterschool Network
  • Anissa Pace
    Mississippi State Department of Health
  • April May
    Mississippi Early Learning Alliance
  • Cathy Grace
    Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning
  • Carol Burnett
    Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative
  • Carolyn Harris
    East Mississippi Community College Resource & Referral Center
  • Cheryl Swoopes
    Tallahatchie Early Learning Alliance
  • Chriscella Clay
    Mississippi State Department of Health 
  • Debbie Ellis
    The Learning Tree, Delta Licensed Providers
  • Deloris Suel
    Childcare Directors Network Alliance
  • Festus Simpkins
    Mississippi State Department of Health 
  • Gabrielle Banks
    University of Mississippi Medical Center
  • Jamila Taylor (appointed by Louise Davis)
    Mississippi State University
  • Jill Dent
    Mississippi Department of Education
  • Joy Hogge
    Families as Allies
  • Julie Parker
    Mississippi State University
  • Lakeisha Bland
    Mississippi State Department of Health
  • Linda Southward
    The Children’s Foundation of Mississippi
  • Linda West
    Retired from Mississippi Families for Kids 
  • Micca Knox
    Save the Children
  • Monica May
    Delta Health Alliance
  • Nita Norphlet-Thompson
    Head Start
  • Oleta Fitzgerald
    Children’s Defense Fund
  • Roshunda Harris-Allen
    Tougaloo College

Parent Focus Group

The convening team conducted a virtual focus group to gather feedback from parents on their experiences with childcare, what quality childcare looks like to them, and what kinds of information they use to choose a center. This feedback was used to inform the overall recommendations for the Quality Support System. Six parents participated in the group.

Focus Group Demographics

Regional Distribution

Racial and Ethnic Distribution

Percentage of parents who participate in the
Child Care Payment Program

Percentage of parents who have children
with special needs

Future Work

Creating and implementing an effective Quality Support System will take time, and this project represents only the first phase of a longer-term process. Future phases will be led by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, and will dive deeper into the specifics of defining quality; planning and designing a new system; and ultimately determining how to implement this system on a statewide scale.