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MDHS Executive Director responds to criticism from daycare providers who say they need federal funds to stay open

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 10:32 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Many child care providers around the state are critical about what they call severe and cumbersome procedures by the Mississippi Department of Human Services to get federal money they desperately need.

Many say because of the COVID pandemic and red tape they are being forced to close their doors.

[READ MORE: The Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services discusses findings in forensic audit]

The Executive Director for the Mississippi Department of Human Services says the agency is not sitting on federal child care money, but they want to make sure it is distributed properly and goes to those who qualify.

Providers across the state say Mississippi’s child care industry is in crisis.

Deloris Suel is President of the Child Care Directors Network Alliance. Suel says the Mississippi Department of Human Services is sitting on half a billion dollars in federal money meant to help support child care providers.

Suel says there are many providers who need the federal funds to stay in business.
Suel says there are many providers who need the federal funds to stay in business.(WLBT)

Suel said, “So many times they figure that we’re only after money and, you know, in this business if we wanted money we definitely would not be doing child care.”

In our Exclusive 3 On Your Side interview with the Executive Director of MDHS, Bob Anderson, he explains why more of the money has not been distributed.

Anderson said, “It should come as no surprise to anyone, child care providers or anybody else that this agency wants to administer federal funds responsibly, prudently, carefully, and in accordance with all of the guidelines that we have laid down in our state plan and what the federal authorities require of us.”

Anderson says after providing cash grants to child care providers the state is still waiting for documentation on how that money was used.

“We put out what we call booster shots during the pandemic. Cash, direct payments of cash grants to childcare providers and we’ve been asking them over the last few weeks and months to give us documentation showing us what they did with these funds so that we can see that they used it accountably before we award some of this new money.

“And we’re still waiting on several hundred of those childcare providers to just tell us what they did with those thousands of dollars we’ve already awarded to them,” said Anderson.

Anderson says the agency is not trying to hold onto the money. He adds there is no benefit to...
Anderson says the agency is not trying to hold onto the money. He adds there is no benefit to MDHS to hold onto the federal funds.(WLBT)

Suel says many child care providers don’t understand the process because it is too complicated and filled with barriers. She also says during the pandemic providers lost many of the children they serve.

“There’s so many providers that need these funds. I talked to one provider in Tupelo and she actually had to borrow money to continue to make it,” Suel said.

Suel’s group plans to hold a press call Thursday to address some of their concerns. Anderson emphasizes DHS is always willing to work with child care providers and give assistance to help Mississippi families.

Anderson said, “We’re not trying to hold onto this money. There’s no benefit to this agency to hold onto these funds.”

The federal money is from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

Anderson says the state will be reviewed and audited for every dollar that is awarded.

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