JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The North Jackson Daycare Center on Bailey Avenue Extension is taking part in the Mississippi Building Blocks program, which is funding $3,000 of classroom materials, certification scholarships for teachers, and more.
"Made it possible for the teachers to get that one-on-one mentoring process done. I don't have to pay anybody to do it. The teachers have benefited well from it," says North Jackson Daycare Center's Director, Belinda Thornton.
Mentors like Debrah Holmes spend 20 days in each facility. "At at most of my centers I'm able to improve the interaction, improve language with children," Holmes says.
WLBT News found lots of learning going on at the North Jackson Childcare Center. But across the board, results aren't all that great. In fact, they're described as "shocking".
"It was a lot more challenging than I expected it to be," says Mississippi Building Blocks Executive Director Laurie Smith.
Flanked by business leaders who help fund Building Blocks, Smith released some findings Wednesday at the state capitol.
"The pretest data... revealed extremely low levels of care being provided on average to the children," she said.
In most of the daycares, even those with the best reputations, they've found problems with basic care. "We have seen several children in one classroom with one crib for the babies. We have seen bottles being shared," Smith says. "The problems were in teacher child ratios, group size being too big, too many babies in a classroom for one care giver to take care of, small square footage, too many children, lack of materials, some hand washing and diapering procedures."
A big problem is low pay for workers, who are expected to provide childcare and education. We asked Thornton to give us a ballpark figure on what her childcare providers earn per hour. "Most of them start off with the minimum wage," she says.
In Mississippi, childcare providers are only expected to have a high school diploma.
Mississippi Building Blocks will spend the next three years intervening and providing resources to the centers taking part. They hope to expand the program and make it permanent.
Building Blocks is also making recommendations to appropriate agencies to help remedy the situation.
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