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Child care providers say they can’t access relief money

October 9, 2021 GMT

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Child care providers are complaining that they are being forced to endure financial hardships, some even being forced to close their doors, because of the challenge of accessing federal funds through the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

Deloris Suel, president of the Child Care Directors Network Alliance, told WLBT-TV that the state has failed to distribute half a billion dollars in federal money meant to help support child care providers. The money is from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Executive Director for the Mississippi Department of Human Services Bob Anderson told the television station the agency is not sitting on federal child care money, but that officials want to distribute the funds “responsibly, prudently and carefully” and within the parameters of state and federal guidelines. Anderson said the state will be reviewed and audited for every dollar that is awarded.

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Anderson said during the pandemic, the state provided thousands of dollars of cash grants to childcare providers and are still waiting for hundreds to provide documentation on how it was spent.

“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,” he said.

Suel said many child care providers don’t understand the process because it is too complicated and filled with barriers. She said a lot of providers are struggling to stay afloat.

“There’s so many providers that need these funds,” she said.