Sluggish economy affects childcare centers - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 11/18/08

Sluggish economy affects childcare centers

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By Monica Hernandez - bio | email

JACKSON (WLBT) -Dozens of childcare centers across the state are tightening their belts in a tough economy. And many childcare directors have had to raise their rates; directors like Beverly Peden, of Crossgates Methodist Childcare Center in Brandon.

"All of our expenses have gone up, and I'm sure it's that way for parents too. Not only in childcare, but in everything as well, so we do hate to do it," said Peden.

The cost of daycare is nothing to play around with when it comes to parent's pocketbooks. In fact, for some parents, it's more costly to work and take their kids to daycare than it is to stay at home.

"I think we're seeing more of a trend of people going towards homecare, and mothers choosing to stay at home because, once they do the numbers, they make the decision- does it cost more to go to work or to stay home?" said Colleen Smith, director of Wildwood Childcare Center at Wildwood Baptist Church in Clinton.

But single parents like Tanya Bolls don't have the option to stay home. She takes her two-year-old son to Northtown CDC Family First Resources.

In a tough economy, Bolls is no longer asked to work as much overtime at Primo's Cafe. And she can no longer receive state vouchers for childcare she makes too much money-- about $1,500 a month.

"So I have to come up with $100 every week," said Bolls. "It's very rough. There's not much money left over to do some things to bring the quality of [my son's] life up."

The Department of Human Services hands out childcare vouchers on need-based priority.

"There is more need among people in higher priorities, and there's not enough money to serve those people in lower priorities this year," said Rick Berry, Deputy Administrator for Programs with DHS.

 On October 1st, the start of the new fiscal year, more "low priority" families were cut off from the vouchers.

"Certain bills I have to drop, I have to juggle my money around," said Bolls.

Meanwhile, Peden said she's hopeful the economy will soon bounce back.

"We're just raising the rates this year, and we might have to raise the rates next year, but for now, I believe it's going to get better," said Peden.

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