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News - World Headlines

ECE Providers Protest Over a New Policy Requiring Parents to Scan Their Fingerprints

Access to early childhood education may be reduced if the plan to get parents to scan their fingerprints goes ahead.  

Mississippi, Sept 2012 - Some Mississippi childcare providers are pushing back against a new state policy that will require parents to scan their fingerprints. Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Daniel Cherry reports how some believe this will reduce access to early childhood education.

Come November, the Mississippi Department of Human Services will require parents who participate in a federally subsidized childcare voucher programme to scan their fingerprints when dropping off or picking up children. Carol Burnett, Executive Director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative is concerned that will deter many providers from participating in the programme.

"They're going to be left with the choice of either participating or not getting paid for services. And they're already in such an excruciating, difficult situation trying to provide a service that their parents can afford."

The Department of Human Services provides childcare vouchers to certain low-income families, and DHS says the finger scan programme would make the voucher system more efficient and accountable. Senator Albert Butler chairs the Senate Investigate State Offices Committee. 

"They're looking at the number of children that are out at different times. They can take that child care provider, give it to one that parents can be sure that they can have that child there daily. So they're saying they want to be more efficient in providing services."

The Investigative Committee heard from providers yesterday at the Capitol concerning the new policy. Andres Tillman owns a childcare centre in Jackson. He's concerned parents will drop out of the programme to avoid being fingerprinted, he'll lose business, and possibly be forced to close.

"Somebody needs to step in and, kind of, halt the process until there's a full understanding and all of the kinks...until meetings are had with the providers to really inform us about what's going on because it's just being rammed down our throats."

Opponents of the new DHS policy say, Louisiana, the first state to implement the fingerprint system, saw thousands of children dropped from the childcare programme.

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