Official Finding of Civil Rights Concerns in Mississippi Child Care Assistance Program Should Serve as a Call to Action in Mississippi and Nationally
Washington, D.C.—The finding by the Mississippi Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that the state’s administration of federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds restricts low-income families of color from accessing quality, affordable child care should serve as a wake-up call and a catalyst for improvement, in Mississippi and nationally. In a news conference today, the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI) highlights the findings of this groundbreaking report, released January 25, and calls for the state to adopt the Committee’s recommendations for improvements to the child care assistance program.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with studying and advising the President and Congress on civil rights matters and issuing a federal civil rights enforcement report.
The Mississippi Advisory Committee investigated allegations of racial discrimination against both the families who sought help paying for child care and the child care providers who care for them. Among its findings, the report identified Mississippi policy decisions that restricted parents of color from accessing services; diverted and constrained available funding that could have otherwise provided additional services for low-income Black children; and excluded child care centers in low-income African-American communities from CCDBG-funded initiatives to improve quality.
We believe the Committee’s recognition of access to quality child care as a civil rights issue for both families and providers is a milestone. This finding recognizes the central role that child care assistance plays in helping low-income parents work and children gain access to high-quality programs that support their learning and development. As research continues demonstrating the deleterious impacts of poverty on young children’s development and the potential for quality child care to lessen those impacts, it is critically important that states expand access to CCDBG and examine whether and how state policies affect children’s access to high-quality child care. This is a particularly important civil rights issue because of the high and disproportionate share of children of color who are living in poor families nationally and in Mississippi. Nearly half (47 percent) of Black children and more than a quarter (26 percent) of Hispanic children in Mississippi are poor. These are the very children most likely to benefit from high-quality child care.
In addition, the Committee’s scrutiny of state decisions is particularly important. Even though CCDBG is largely federally funded, it authorizes states to make major policy choices. These choices can make an enormous difference in either supporting or hindering parents’ ability to work, children’s access to quality care, and providers’ ability to meet high-quality standards.
CLASP provided public testimony leading up to this report and supports MLICCI in its call for the state to adopt the Committee’s recommendations for improvements to the child care assistance program.
CLASP is ready and eager to work with those in Mississippi and other states to ensure equitable access to child care assistance for all children.
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CLASP is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions that work for low-income people. With nearly 50 years of trusted expertise, a deeply knowledgeable staff, and a commitment to practical yet visionary approaches to opportunity for all, CLASP lifts up the voices of poor and low-income children, families, and individuals, equips advocates with strategies that work, and helps public officials put good ideas into practice. The organization’s solutions directly address the barriers that individuals and families face because of race, ethnicity, and immigration status, in addition to low income. For more information, visit clasp2022.tealmedia.dev and follow @CLASP_DC.