Infant-Toddler Child Care Challenges in Mississippi
Improving child care to bolster the state
Quality child care can significantly strengthen the workforce and economy. Mississippi’s parents with infants and toddlers know the difficulties of accessing child care that is affordable and high-quality. Finding and enrolling in programs that benefit their child’s development during one of the most critical periods of life can be challenging.
Before the pandemic, nearly half (48 percent) of Mississippi families lived in a child care desert, with at least three children for every licensed child care slot. Availability was especially limited for families who have infants and toddlers.
“In Mississippi, child care for infants and toddlers is essential to the early learning community. It is during ages 0-3 that critical brain development forms,” says ReadyNation member Nicole Stubbs, Vice President of Performance Improvement, Greenwood-Leflore Hospital.
A significant need is to expand programs that enhance the affordability and availability of quality child care, specifically for infants and toddlers, in a way that fosters continuing innovations at the state and local levels to address this problem. In recent years, Mississippi lawmakers have made great strides to invest in early learning programs. Early childhood education advocates are working and developing a quality improvement system that works for parents with young children.
This new system will greatly improve outcomes for parents with infants and toddlers. Early intervention, primary development screenings, and various wrap-around services will be a lifeline for infants and toddlers in the state. Special attention and care provided to infants and toddlers is a critical foundation for children to excel in school and life. Those academic and life successes will eventually help these young people contribute to a stronger economy and workforce in the long run.