JACKSON, Miss. – Childcare providers are not happy about a new finger scan system imposed by the state. It requires low-income parents who benefit from state funds at childcare centers to scan their finger when picking up the kids. The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) says it will help them save money because they will now, under a new policy, only pay for the time the child has been under care instead of a flat rate.
“The childcare provider has already prepared lunch, there is staff there, and the lights are on. You only want to pay the child care provider for two hours? That does not make sense,” said one speaker at the protest.
Childcare providers and their supporters say they cannot budget or hire staff under the new policy since incoming funds will be far less stagnant.
The state is also paying Xerox, the company supplying the scanners, $12 million to operate the scanners over 5 years. Protesters suggest that money could be spent on children who are on the waiting list to enter the state childcare program.
Some who spoke out suggested this is an attack on low income Mississippians, others like Debbie Ellis with the Mississippi Delta Licensed Child Care Providers claim discrimination.
“I think if all the children were white we would have a completely different outcome,” said Ellis.
Ellis said over 90 percent of the kids in the program were black Mississippians.