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Resource, referral centers assist child-care decisions
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Selecting quality child care can be a tough decision for parents trying to go back to work or school, but a network offered through Mississippi State University is helping ease the process.
Factors in the child-care decision include cost, location, type of care, programs available and openings. This emotional choice is made even harder when negative news stories discuss the latest health and safety violations or child endangerment cases being investigated at child-care facilities.
The Mississippi Child Care Resource & Referral Network, based at MSU, offers many resources for families as they search for an appropriate child-care center or in-home child-care provider.
“The first step is to educate yourself about the factors to consider,” said Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with the MSU Extension Service and project director for the network. “Many people rely on word-of-mouth, which isn’t always the best source of reliable information.”
The Mississippi Child Care Resource & Referral Network offers a brochure online at http://www.childcaremississippi.org that offers five steps to finding quality child care and a checklist to take when visiting a child-care center or in-home child-care provider.
“Local resource and referral centers can provide a list of child-care centers available in the area,” Davis said. “Our voluntary database includes all child-care centers registered with the Mississippi Department of Health. Calling us will facilitate a parent’s search process.”
Child Care Aware, a program of the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, offers a wide variety of publications and articles, and an online decision-making tool to help parents in their search for child care. Find these resources at http://www.childcareaware.org.
Many parents prefer to find a more home-like atmosphere for child care. While in-home child care is currently not regulated in Mississippi, in-home child-care providers have educational opportunities available to them.
In addition to trainings offered by the resource and referral network, a special program targeting the needs of in-home child-care providers has been operating for 10 years. The Nurturing Homes Initiative provides one-on-one technical assistance and educational materials to in-home care providers across the state.
Kira Cox is a mother in Columbus who used the Mississippi Child Care Resource & Referral Network to locate quality child care for her son.
“My experience with the network was very good and helpful,” Cox said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, and I really needed to find someone to take care of my son. I was able to locate a center based on the information provided, and it worked out really well.”
The Mississippi Child Care Resource & Referral Network has resource centers across the state that provide information on finding local child care, educational materials for free check-out, and information on training and technical assistance for child-care providers. Call (866) 706-8827 to locate a local resource center, or visit http://www.childcaremississippi.org.