MS pilot program requires finger scanning for child care - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MS pilot program requires finger scanning for child care

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Many parents across Mississippi could soon be giving a new hands on approach for daycare. That's if a pilot program from the Mississippi Department of Human Services takes hold.

It puts new requirements on parents who participate in the Child Care Certificate Program, which helps low-income families pay for child care. Under the initiative, those parents will have their fingers scanned as they pick up and drop off their children at daycare centers.

About a dozen centers in the state are currently part of the pilot program. If taken statewide, the first phase of implementation would happen as soon as November.

"They are saying that it's just a scan or imaging that will go to a number but this number can be tracked," said Deloris Suel, president of the Child Care Directors Network.

Suel says the policy is invasive and could put personal and financial information at risk.

"I just feel that it infringes upon your protection and your rights," said Suel.

Carol Burnett, executive director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative also gives the requirement a thumbs down. She says DHS didn't even get provider or parental input before getting started.

"We asked the Stennis Institute at Mississippi State to do a survey of child care providers across the state of Mississippi and we learned through that survey that seventy percent of child care providers are opposed to this," said Suel.

The Department of Human Services released a statement saying the system is designed to reduce the amount of fraud and streamline services. 

"The Division of Early Childhood Care and Development is working to maximize federal dollars so that more low-income families in Mississippi have access to quality child care," read the statement.

Meanwhile, Burnett says the opposite will happen.

"It is going to have a very adverse affect, discouraging parents from attempting to participate in this program because they're worried. They're reluctant to participate by giving their fingerprints," said Burnett.

Currently, Louisiana is the only other state using this type of system, which began in 2010. While Louisiana leaders say it is successful, they also note thousands of families have dropped out of the certificate program.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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