Parents, providers, and members of the general public should exercise their responsibility to be knowledgeable of the laws, policies, rules, and regulations that govern the programs they participate in. Use the links below to access official information related to Mississippi’s early childhood care and education system.
The State Early Childhood Advisory Council and the Mississippi Department of Human Services released a joint statement in December 2016 on the future of early childhood services and programs in Mississippi. Mississippi’s strategic plan for the early childhood system is underpinned by a common case management and integrated referral process. Early care and education providers are essential partners in transitioning to and implementing Mississippi’s stategic plan. Use the link below to learn more about the future of early childhood in Mississippi.
The State Early Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC) and Mississippi’s Early Learning Collaboratives are authorized and directed by Senate Bill 2395. Colloquially known as “The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013,” SB 2395 outlines the purpose of the collaborative initiative, definitions, operational procedures for participating programs, the funding schedule, and the authority and duties of all entities involved. SB 2395 also outlines the purpose and membership requirements of SECAC.
Licensed child care and education environments in Mississippi are regulated by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). For each type of care environment, MSDH publishes a manual that outlines the health, safety, and operational procedures that must be followed for a provider to be eligible for a child care license. These manuals cover caregiver requirements for background checks, credentials, and orientation and ongoing training. The manuals also outline mandatory operational procedures related to hand washing, nap times, serving food, and pick-up/drop-off, as well as guidelines for the physical environment, including all indoor and outdoor spaces where children may be present. The purpose of licensing requirements is to ensure a basic level of health and safety for children and staff in licensed care environments.
Well-respected organizations in early childhood, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Association for School Psychologists, and the National Institute for Early Education Research, have advocated for and provided evidence for the importance of cultivating young children’s social, emotional, and behavioral health. These organizations have joined the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in recommending severe limitations on the use of expulsion and suspension in early childhood settings. The Division of Early Childhood Care and Development (DECCD) in the Mississippi Department of Human Services released a position statement in October 2016 addressing these topics:
Each year, a portion of the Child Care and Development Fund is set aside to provide financial assistance in the form of vouchers for low-income families to afford quality child care services. In Mississippi, these set-aside funds are distributed to families through the Child Care Payment Program (CCPP). CCPP is administered by DECCD. The CCPP Policy Manual for parents and providers outlines the rules and regulations that govern this essential program.
Head Start has served more than 32 million children since 1965. Head Start is currently administered by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the Department of Health and Human Services. Head Start serves children and their families in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. territories, including American Indian, Alaskan Native, and migrant/seasonal communities. Head Start was most recently reauthorized with bipartisan support in 2007. The Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 strengthened the quality of care delivered in Head Start centers, including prescribing higher qualifications for the Head Start teaching workforce, mandating State Advisory Councils on Early Care and Education in every state, and increasing program monitoring, including a review of child outcomes and annual financial audits.
The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a multibillion-dollar federal and state partnership administered by the Office of Child Care in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote family economic self-sufficiency and to help children succeed in school and life through affordable, high-quality early care and after-school programs. CCDF is authorized by the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 2014. President Obama signed this bipartisan legislation into law, making important changes to the fund that are focused on reforming child care in this country to better support the success of both parents and children.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation. IDEA governs how states and public agencies provide early intervention, special education, and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities. IDEA is organized by four parts (A-D). Infants and toddlers with disabilities (birth to 2) and their families receive early intervention services under IDEA Part C. Children and youth (ages 3 to 21) receive special education and related services under IDEA Part B.