MDHS addresses numerous concerns over childcare strong grants

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 8:03 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Concerned childcare workers at the State Capitol Thursday were all looking for answers and comfort about the $319 million Child Care Strong grant.

“If these providers are telling you they have some problems with clarity and understanding, I’m requesting you try to resolve those issues so we don’t send somebody to jail,” said Representative John W. Hines.

1,114 childcare providers in the state received an average grant of $219,000 that would be used toward expenses during the pandemic, including personnel, utilities, sanitation, and more.

However, childcare providers say regulation changes and a lack of clarity from the Mississippi Department of Human Services make them believe one documented mistake could mean daycares close their doors.

“In midterm of this, things begin to change. It confused a lot of directors, it confused a lot of us, and we didn’t know how to respond to that,” said the Owner of Agape Christian Academy World Cantrell Keyes. “It even put a little fear in us because we didn’t want to do wrong by the stabilization grant.”

But according to MDHS, none of your children’s daycares will have to close their doors. They will have monthly reviews to ensure that expenses meet requirements and are allocated on time.

“Department Human Services is not going to cut anybody off,” said House Minority Leader Robert L. Johnson III. “They’re not going to stop those. They’re not gonna hold anybody or penalize anybody. They have a whole year to make sure these people get it right.”

That statement alone helped ease the nervousness of several providers. As long as money is allocated by September 30 and documents are checked by MSDH, no child will be left without care.

“This hearing today was a great opportunity for them to hear from advocates,” said Keyes. “For them to hear from childcare providers about what needs to happen in the state of Mississippi going forward to make this a success for our state.”

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