MDHS provides some relief for the rising cost of child care
PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - As we all continue to face high prices at the pump and the grocery store, parents also face rising child care expenses.
However, the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) said there are resources available to help eligible families cover the cost of child care.
“Listen, child care is like three utility bills in one,” said Anteria McCullem, a Pine Belt mom of three. “Child care is a pricey expense many parents pay weekly, like every Monday. So you get paid Friday, you pay your bills. You got to pay child care, and you can’t not pay it because then you’re going to miss work. So, I’m going to tell you it’s like lights, water, and gas put together.”
Consumer reports show an average weekly, full-time rate for daycare in Mississippi can range from $128 to $140 per child, depending on the child’s age and the provider.
McCullem said that she wouldn’t be able to make ends meet if it wasn’t for the MDSH child care payment program, also called a “district.”
“It’s a huge impact because I’m able to do more with my kids because I have that extra money,” said McCullem. “Because I have friends that say, ‘oh, you get district.’ Yes, I get district. I say it with pride because those extra funds can help you with your next vision or the next trip you want to plan for your kids.”
Eligible parents can choose any child care provider participating in the program - only being responsible for paying a copayment instead of the full amount.
Chad Allgood, co-director of the MDHS Early Childhood Care and Development, said he believes child care is the backbone of the American workforce. Therefore, he said it’s essential for child care to be affordable.
“What this program does is it covers the majority of your child care expenses,” said Allgood. “So depending on what the parent’s income level is, the size of the household, how many children, we calculate what their copayment would be.
“On average, every month, we serve somewhere between 22,000 and 23,000 children at one given time. But last year, when we looked at our total, we served a little over 35,000 children.”
Parents and their children aren’t the only ones to benefit from the MDHS programs.
Lashontay Burkett, the owner of Total Kids Zone, said the program also helped her daycare financially during the pandemic.
“They just went 100% and paid child care 10% across the board for all of the parents who were already enrolled,” said Burkett.
For more information on MDHS resources and how to apply, visit their website here.
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