By Senator David Blount
As the #2 ranking Democrat in the Senate, I helped lead hearings at the Capitol on the welfare scandal and the Department of Human Services (DHS) misuse of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.
Because of our efforts to bring increased public scrutiny to the mismanagement of these programs, last month the department removed the child support cooperation requirement for parents to receive child care assistance. According to Mississippi Today, the requirement served as one of the biggest barriers to parents securing child care vouchers, which help working parents place their children at participating centers.
Quality, affordable child care is essential for Mississippi parents. The DHS program provides assistance to qualifying parents who need help with child care costs. Once approved, parents choose a participating provider and DHS makes payments directly to the center on behalf of the child.
Mississippi was one of only 13 states that imposed the child support requirement, which forced parents to participate in the state’s troubled child support enforcement program and deal with another level of bureaucracy.
“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, director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative. “The removal of this policy is a huge benefit for single moms, for their children, for providers and employers, and for all of us.”
Mississippi’s child care centers are critical to Mississippi’s workforce and continued K-12 educational improvement. I encourage eligible parents and guardians to apply for a child care payment voucher for their child or dependent. To learn more about applications, eligibility requirements, and participating providers, please visit the Department of Human Services website, www.mdhs.ms.gov.
I am running for re-election this year and would be grateful for your support in the August 8th Democratic Primary. As my work on demanding change to the welfare program shows, my seniority and experience give me an opportunity to do more for our district.
Thank you again for the opportunity to work for Hinds County in the State Senate. I am happy to meet with groups, neighborhoods, or churches in Senate District 29 to listen and discuss issues that are important to you. You can contact me by email (email@example.com) or by calling my office at the Capitol (601-359-2220). I am also on Facebook and Twitter (@sendavidblount).