Child care advocates say there's money slipping through the cracks that could help Mississippi families. When low-income parents don't have access to child care, they're often forced to quit their jobs.
Advocates are hoping to get more funding and reduce the number of parents having to make that choice.
"For last year, 6 million dollars in state funds would've brought into the state an additional 13.2 million," said Carol Burnett, Executive Director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative.
So, that's the problem. DHS has access to a federal block grant for the child care payment program. But it requires matching dollars from the state. Mississippi said it didn't have enough money to match the federal dollars last year. Because of that, $13 million dollars had to be returned the feds.
"Mississippi deserves childcare for every family," said Rep. Cheikh Taylor. "DHS deserves to be funded adequately. And we shall not go gently into the night saying that next year, next year, next year we'll get these things done."
Over 100,000 Mississippi children qualify but only about 17,000 are served. And more than 21,000 are on the waiting list for the childcare vouchers. Behind all the numbers, are the parents and child care providers who are left feeling the domino effect of losing or not having the vouchers.
"I have parents that come in that have to decide, do I pay daycare this week or do I buy groceries?" explained Tammy Forrester with TLC Creative Learning Center in Columbus. "And they shouldn't have to do that."
But that's exactly what they say is happening.
"It's important for me to be here so that people can hear what it's like for moms or parents to have to choose between quality childcare and being able to live, have a sustainable life," noted single mom Amanda Furdge.
Advocates say there's $39 million dollars more that's newly available as part of the block grant. It doesn't include a required match. They're hoping DHS will act quickly to take advantage of those available dollars.
Copyright 2018 MSNewsNow. All rights reserved.
Story idea or news tip? Email us at News@WLBT.COM or call 601-960-4426.
715 South Jefferson Street
Jackson, MS 39201