$47 million in CARES Act money will go to Mississippi child care programs

$47 million in CARES Act money will go to Mississippi child care programs
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MOSS POINT, Miss. (WLOX) - Mississippi officials are donating a significant portion of CARES Act money to helping child care centers stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the Mississippi Department of Human Services announced $47 million will go to child care centers. That money money is part of the $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package passed by Congress in March.

Child care providers were hit hard by the onset of the novel coronavirus, causing many centers to suspend operation during the crisis and unsure whether they would be able to restart.

Owner and director of May’s Little Lambs in Moss Point Mary Odom is no stranger to the tough times child care centers are facing because of COVID-19. After being closed for nearly four and a half months, the doors to Mary’s Little Lambs are open one again, but only at 60% capacity.

“I’m licensed for 58 and I have 35, so that’s a big drop, but we’re still having to pay the teachers to be here. So it’s very hard. It’s a challenging time for us also to make sure that we can pay our staff so they will be able to teach and take care of the boys and girls,” Odom said.

Parents are also eligible to apply for assistance from the CARES Act funding.

“I have five parents that have applied for it and one received their certificate on Monday, so it’s basically the same, and I had four to receive theirs on Tuesday. So they have a zero copay. So MDHS going to pay for everything. So that’s a blessing. That’s real good,” Odom said.

The money has been allocated into three different avenues of support.

  • $8.2 million in certificates that allow essential and emergency personnel to receive assistance in paying for child care.
  • $13.9 million in enhanced rates and enrollment-based payments designed to help ensure child care centers survive the pandemic.
  • $7.3 million to pay co-payments for parents to further stabilize provider income streams while eliminating an extra expense for families

In addition to these incentives, $4 million has been designated for providing PPE for child care centers. MDHS is also planning to use $13.6 million as one-time cash assistance for child care centers, and that project is in the final implementation phases.

“Parents need to be able to work and contribute to the economic recovery of Mississippi without worrying about whether their children are going to be safe,” said Executive Director Robert G. Anderson. “Every day we see businesses filing bankruptcy as a result of this pandemic. We are committed to using all resources at our disposal to ensure child care centers survive and thrive.”

To learn more about the Division of Early Childhood Care and Development and how to apply for child care assistance, CLICK HERE.

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