Mississippi Childcare Resource, Referral Center opens in Hattiesburg

The center provides resources to children, families and educators. Families can also receive referrals to groups and services for support.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 7:38 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Doors are now open at the Mississippi Childcare Resource and Referral Center in Hattiesburg.

The center is a part of Mississippi State University’s Extension Office.

The center provides children with books and toys that help them develop their social, emotional and intellectual skills.

“These items can be checked out for up to 14 days, and it’s at no cost,” said Project Director Tara Dickerson. “So this is for families, childcare educators, members of the community who serve ages birth through 12.”

Families can also receive referrals to local support services.

“Whether that be a childcare center, a pre-school, or maybe a family home childcare provider,” Dickerson said. “We can put them in touch with those kinds of resources.”

The center is part of a larger network that encompasses Regions 2, 3 and 4 of the state.

Dickerson said the network hopes to eventually open 30 locations, increasing their reach.

“It makes an impact throughout the rest of their lives, and we want to help Mississippi’s children grow and learn and just have access to resources that they might not otherwise have access to,” said Dickerson.

Dozens of people attended the center’s grand opening Tuesday, including Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker.

Barker said he can already see the future impact of the center, located on Hwy. 49, just across from Forrest General Hospital.

“To have this center located in the heart of our city where it’s close to Willie, close to Thames, close to Christian, where it can be a resource for the entire community,” said Barker. “It really grows our capacity to sustain our public schools in the long haul.”

The center also provides supplies to local educators.

Hours are Monday-Friday, from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., and 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Tuesdays.

Families will need to only provide basic information to check out items.

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