JANS – Single parents in Mississippi no longer need to cooperate with child support enforcement in order to be eligible for child care assistance, thanks to nearly twenty years of advocacy by the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative (MLICCI) that led to a policy change by the state Department of Human Services (DHS).
Since 2004, MLICCI has been working with coalition partners, moms, and providers elevating how this arbitrary rule has produced harmful impacts on families and adverse effects on our state. Through survey research among providers and first-hand experience with single moms participating in the Employment Equity for Single Moms case management program, MLICCI has spent countless hours helping families navigate through bureaucratic red tape while advocating for the elimination of this rule. The child support requirement has prevented thousands of families, mostly headed by single moms, from accessing both the child care assistance they need to build their economic security and the early childhood education their young children need to develop and thrive.
“This policy deterred many single moms from applying for many valid reasons, ranging from informal payment agreements being jeopardized by court interference to avoiding abusive interactions,” said Carol Burnett, MLICCI’s executive director. “The removal of this policy is a huge benefit for single moms, for their children, for providers and employers, and for all of us.”
DHS operates the Child Care Payment Program (CCPP), which offers low-income parents financial help paying the cost of child care. Because child care is costly, CCPP makes this service affordable so that parents can go to work.
“Child care is more than a critical support service for an individual family, it is a lifeline for the entire state’s economy,” said Matt Williams, policy director for MLICCI. “Mississippi has one of the highest rates of single parent households and the highest rate of women breadwinners in the nation. The importance of access to affordable child care cannot be overstated.”
The May 15 rule change is a huge step in the right direction for child care access in Mississippi.
“MLICCI is thankful to DHS, the Mississippi State Early Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC), and our many partners for sticking with us to achieve this victorious outcome. Most of all, we are grateful for the opportunity to center the voices and the needs of single moms and their families in order to achieve this amazing development,” added Burnett.