Families in need of childcare assistance will no longer have the requirement of child support enforcement cooperation.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) is removing the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) cooperation requirement for parents and guardians who receive childcare tuition assistance through the Child Care Payment Program (CCPP).
CCPP is administered by MDHS as a part of Early Childhood Care and Development (DECCD). Like SNAP and TANF recipients, CCPP carries a work requirement. In order to participate, parents must maintain a job.
The decision comes as part of administrative action. The State Early Childhood Advisory Council unanimously supported the move in March of 2022. The removal of the CSE cooperation only applies to the childcare payment program.
“Childcare is essential to the future of Mississippi. Accessibility of quality childcare strengthens families, enriches learning, and undergirds our workforce. This policy change is a step towards allowing parents to fully participate in the workforce and is an investment in families, communities, and the economy,” stated Robert G. (Bob) Anderson, Executive Director Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Between fiscal years 2021 and 2022, MSDH collected $324,726,703 in child support payments. The department maintains they will continue to ensure these collections are made on behalf of children, despite the requirement being lifted.
The federally funded program is designed to provide childcare assistance to parents and guardians that qualify. The program is geared toward low-income families in Mississippi. It offers financial assistance for high-quality childcare through the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) subsidy program.
How it works
Parents must first meet an income and work requirement in order to participate in the program. Parents receive a base amount through the CCPP program and are responsible for any additional published tuition rates. For example, if the voucher is for $300 per month and the facility charges $360, the parent is responsible for the $60 in addition to their monthly co-payment. Copay fees vary based on each family situation.
Eligibility is based largely on income in relation to family size. Children in protective services are not required to complete the CCPP application. For other parents that meet the work and income requirements, they can apply through the MSDH website.
After a parent or guardian is approved to receive the CCPP assistance, vouchers are administered that can be used at any of the qualifying childcare centers. There are currently 10 approved childcare facilities that can accept vouchers. MDHS says this is a number they are working to increase.
According to current rates that run through June 2023, parents with a child up to 36 months old receive $480 monthly. Children ages 3-5 receive $440 and 5-12, $400. For children who have specials needs they can receive $500 monthly. there are increased emergency rates.
On July 1, those base rates will be increased but a number has not been determined.
Access to childcare in Mississippi
According to information provided to Magnolia Tribune, MDHS is currently working to identify and recruit home-based childcare providers in 15 additional counties. This move comes after the Children’s Foundation and Elucidata identified a significant need in these areas. Those counties include: Jefferson, Hinds, Wilkinson, Washington, Noxubee, Humphreys, Coahoma, Claiborne, Issaquena, Forrest, Warren, Clay, Lee, Madison, and Benton.
MSDH maintains that access to quality childcare is essential for expanding the workforce in Mississippi.
Access to affordable childcare is a proven barrier for parents entering the work force and maintaining jobs. Research shows that access to high-quality childcare provides for sustained employment and potentially higher wages.
The Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI) applauded MDHS’s removal of the requirement.
“MLICCI is thankful to DHS, the Mississippi State Early Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC), and our many partners for sticking with us to achieve this victorious outcome. Most of all, we are grateful for the opportunity to center the voices and the needs of single moms and their families in order to achieve this amazing development,” said Carol Burnett, MLICCI’s Executive Director.
The group released a statement which indicated they have been working since 2004 to see the “arbitrary rule” removed.