Finger scanning technology causing controversy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A rally of child care centers, providers and parents from across the state Wednesday morning at the state capitol is giving a big thumbs down to a new finger scanning requirement in Mississippi.

Hampton says, "That's the biggest mess we have ever encountered," said provider Shirley Hampton.

"Stop calling it finger scanning, call it finger printing," said Cassandra Welchlin with the Mississippi low income child care initiative.

The scanning, or printing, is part of a pilot program put in place by the Mississippi Department of Human Services. It requires parents who participate in the child care certificate program to scan their finger when they pick up and drop off their children at daycare.

Those in opposition say it's invasive and could cause more harm than good.

"I believe that this program is discriminatory and will foster segregation," said provider Debbie Ellis.

"Please remove your rose colored glasses and realize the undue burden you're creating," said grandparent Kimberly Kinchen.

DHS contents the scanning will help reduce fraud, save money and streamline services like payments. The department's early childhood care and development head, Jill Dent, told folks at a public hearing Wednesday afternoon that finger scans will only create a pin number and then be erased.

While the scan will track how much time a child spends at a center, Dent says payment to those centers will remain the same.

"We're not paying by the hour, we're paying as we are now," said Dent.

Paid for through federal block grant money at about $1.6 million a year, folks at the rally say that money could be better spent on serving the 8,000 kids on the child care certificate program's waiting list. As long as DJS pushes the requirement, those opponents will continue to push back.

"We wanted to bring attention to the extent of opposition that exists among parents and providers to the rule change," said Carol Burnett with the Mississippi low income child care initiative.

The scanning requirement will start being put in place across the state beginning on December 1st and should be everywhere by March 1st. Parents will also be required to watch a video and go to their county DHS office to get their finger scanned.

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