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Some State Childcare Providers Plan Action to Stop MDHS Fingerprint Scan Requirement

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 29 Jul 2013 05:08am | comments
Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hess/MPB News: Childcare providers protest in front of the State Capital.

Some Mississippi childcare providers say they plan to head to court this week to stop the state from requiring them to fingerprint scan some Mississippi parents.  The providers say the scans are unnecessary and could undermine their business.

"Everything is gone. I just asked people to come in an get it because I no longer needed it,"

 Bessie Walker stands in the middle of the empty bright yellow playroom of Tiny Tots which used to be her south Jackson childcare center.

 Walker shut her center down last week rather than install finger print scanners the state wants to use to track the attendance of children who receive vouchers to go to day care.

 She says the scanners would change the atmosphere of her day care center because the kids would see the way different parents are treated.

 "They would like for their parents to do the same as this parent over here. And they ask 'why is that Ms. Walker?' and what is Ms. Walker supposed to say to them. And I will not break a parent's self esteem down that way. I just couldn't do it," Walker said.

 "Ban the Scan! Ban the Scan!"

 Outside the capitol, dozens of child care providers and low income families chanted for the state to reverse its decision.

 Latiya Stewart, who runs a day care in Jackson, says the Mississippi Department of Human Services is not thinking about the human impact that the scanners will have.

 "Its awful that they will not consider the lives they are affecting with this. And I take it personal. And my workers will take you I take everything personal. So with that being said I say 'ban the scan'," Stewart said.

 The providers also worry that the state will use the scanners as a mechanism to reduce their payments which would make it hard to stay in business, something DHS firmly denies.

 Dr. Jill Dent with DHS says the scanners are about accountability for the millions of state dollars that go toward child care, and stresses that no one is being forced to install them.

 "Providers can choose whether or not they want to be on the program. If they want to operate with subsidy children then they will have to follow the rules that are in place. (what if the choice is between taking the scanner or closing their doors?) Then that is their choice," Dent said.

 Roughly 18,000 Mississippi kids are on the vouchers and 13,000 are on a waiting list for them.

 Advocates say they will take the state to court this week to ask a judge to block the scanner requirement from taking effect this fall.



Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Hess/MPB News: Childcare providers protest in front of the State Capital.



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