Budget Cuts Mean Child Care Officials Have to Rethink OperationsBy Daniel Cherry | Published 28 Dec 2011 07:39pm |
The Mississippi Department of Human Services hopes to get more children into early education programs by consolidating services. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how some providers are concerned the changes are happening too fast.
Human Services officials are streamlining their processes and going electronic in hopes of improving access to child care in Mississippi. Dr. Jill Dent is the Director of the Division of Early Child Care and Development at DHS. She says less federal money is coming in and that means the state has to consolidate services and cut out designated agents or contract workers.
"We are going to take a $1.8 million cut this year and so this move towards being able to pull in some of those administrative dollars from the designated agents to be able to help with that budget is going to help not cut children off that program."
Now everything is done on paper, but soon the state will offer services direct to providers online. Carol Burnett with the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative thinks going electronic is a sign of progress and eventually will benefit more children.
"It is a good move in my view and in the view of many who are eager to see more children served that this middle level of administration be eliminated so that more kids can be served."
Earlier this year, budget cuts forced the state to drop about 4000 children from child care programs. Delores Grey Suel owns a daycare and is President of the Mississippi Child Care Director's Network. She says going electronic will put added burden on already strapped child care providers.
"Some people are not computer literate. You're talking about rural areas, parents. We still have young parents that can't read and write. So you're going to ask them to go in and use a computer in order to provide this documentation."
Suel says very little training has been provided and many facilities have little or no access to computers.
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