Every state depends on multiple sources of federal funding to implement their early childhood educational efforts. In Mississippi, nearly one-quarter of a billion dollars is targeted toward the early childcare and education of children aged birth to five years old. The following programs utilize these federal funds:
Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)
The Child Care and Development Fund assists in obtaining childcare low-income families, those receiving temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), and those transitioning from public assistance (TCC). The purpose of the CCDF is to increase the availability, affordability, and quality of childcare services. Qualifying families are given vouchers or certificates to be used to offset the costs of childcare. A Child Care Certificate is a document issued by the Central Mississippi Planning & Development District (CMPDD) directly to a parent/legal guardian, based upon factors such as income, family size, and dependents. Some families are required to make a monthly co-payment.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families is a complex, broadly defined federal-state assistance program designed to transition families and individuals from welfare to work. It is related to childcare in two ways. First, the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS), the state agency that administers the program, transfers allocated money from TANF to the CCDF program described above. The factors involved in deciding if a family is eligible include deprivation, income, resources, and child support requirements. The needs for childcare certificates must be balanced with the need for other forms of welfare when deciding what dollar amount to transfer. TANF funds can also be used to provide childcare subsidies directly for families without transferring the funds.
Created in 1965, Head Start is a federally funded and administered program for low income children to provide health, education, parental outreach, and other socio-developmental services. Only in recent years has the Head Start network been utilized as a vehicle to deliver age appropriate curriculum. In 2010, Mississippi received approximately $167 million; this program served about 26,000 prekindergarten aged children. Head Start has played a crucial role in getting Mississippi children ready to start school. A related program, Early Head Start, focuses on children aged birth to three years old. The focus of this effort is on prenatal health, families, and child development. The Head Start Collaboration Office is housed in the Office of the Governor of Mississippi so that access to the Governor and other key policy makers or planning bodies can be easily facilitated.
Title I Funding
Title I Funding refers to the stream of federal dollars allocated to states from the U.S. Department of Education for “at-risk” students – defined as those that receive free and reduced lunch. In Mississippi, 47 of 152 school districts in almost 100 schools have created a pre-kindergarten for four year olds with these funds.