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Fight Over Finger Scan Program Continues

By Daniel Cherry | Published 16 Nov 2012 08:02pm | comments
Mississippi childcare providers are again urging the state Department of Human Services to drop plans for a fingerprint scanning program for families receiving childcare assistance. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports...
 
This daycare in Jackson is one of about 30 childcare centers in Mississippi participating in a pilot fingerprint scanning program from the state. The program requires parents who receive federal childcare assistance vouchers, to scan their fingerprints when picking up and dropping off their children. December McCloud, a mother of 3 from Jackson says the finger scans single out low income families.
 
"Not everybody uses them. It's not everybody's business what assistance you have or if you need any at all. I'm one of the parents that has to use the voucher because I can't afford to send them to daycare by myself so for other ones that's not, people judge you whether they're supposed to or not."
 
Daycare providers participating in the pilot program, like Shirley Hampton of Jackson say it's been nothing but a headache. At a public hearing in Jackson on Friday, she says the fingerscan equipment doesn't work all the time which prevents her from getting her proper payments.
 
"You're estimating that you're going to get about $7,000 and you got $3,500...that's mind boggling. That's closing down your doors."
 
DHS officials say there's curently no timeline for implementing the program. During a court hearing last month, DHS agreed to hear more input from providers. Jill Dent, who heads up the DHS childcare department says the goal is to increase efficiency and accountablility of the childcare voucher program. The finger scans allow the state to track attendance of children, ensuring the state isn't paying providers for children who aren't actually attending.
 
"We just want to make sure that we have accountability in our system. Former State Auditor Phil Bryant said that we needed in the program more efficiency and use electronic systems to implement that."
 
Providers are concerned, the estimated savings won't come from efficiency, but by removing families from the childcare program. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.
 

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