Locate child care near you and get help choosing a child care provider.
Making the Right Child Care Choice for Your Child
Find the best child care environment for your child that responds to your child’s needs, and is the best available fit for cost and location.
Here are some factors to weigh:
- Cost and location
- Qualifications of staff
- Activities offered
- Ability of the provider to meet the unique needs of each child
Child care settings should offer a variety of activities for your child, both alone and with other children. Activity settings must be designed for safety.
Find Child Care Near You
You can use the Child Care Provider Search Tool to find a child care provider near you that meets your child’s needs.
Search results include information about the provider’s operating license, services, age groups served, months of operation, and days and hours of operation. You’ll also have access to information about the results of Mississippi Department of Health inspections, any investigations at the facility, and any monetary penalties.
You can also search for providers that accept Child Care Payment Program (CCPP) funds by checking the “Accepts MDHS Subsidy Children” box before you click “Search.”
Search results may include providers exempt from licensure requirements. For example: Home based providers serving five or less children who are not related (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, brothers/sisters, nieces/nephews) are exempt from a license from the Mississippi Department of Health.
Licensed child care providers are licensed by the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH). These providers must adhere to health and safety regulations. Unlicensed providers are monitored annually by the MSDH but are not licensed by MSDH.
Learn more about choosing the right care for your child using the Mississippi Department of Health’s Child Care Facilities Licensure Branch. This part of MSDH inspects and monitors day care facilities and youth camps, sets standards for their safe operation, and ensures that a healthy and nutritious environment is created for children’s early development.
Types of Child Care in Mississippi
Learn more below about different child care services available in Mississippi and what to look for when selecting an early care and education environment for your child.
Types of Child Care Providers
A CCPP-approved child care provider refers to any private child care provider that is eligible to serve children and families participating in the Child Care Payment Program (CCPP) of the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS).
If you have been approved to receive child care assistance through CCPP, you must choose a CCPP-approved provider in order to receive the benefit.
CCPP-approved providers must complete an application and approval process with MDHS in order to begin receiving reimbursement for services to CCPP-participating families. CCPP-approved providers must reapply for approval each year.
Additional Provider Requirements
In addition to the requirements above, all providers, regardless of setting must complete an application to be designated a Standard Center. To be classified as a standard center, a child care center must be licensed and meet minimum federal and state standards.
Standard centers will operate above licensure expectations in two ways:
- All staff must go through mandatory training as required by the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014.
- All staff must have 15 hours of continuing professional development each year as prescribed by the act. The professional-development areas include:
- health and safety;
- educational standards and best practices;
- recognizing signs, symptoms, or behaviors of child abuse and neglect;
- professional development that addresses social-emotional and behavioral development, mental health, expulsion, and exclusionary discipline practices in child care settings; and
- developmental and behavioral screenings.
The curriculum implemented in these centers must align with the state early learning guidelines for infants and toddlers and the state early learning standards for three- and four-year-olds. These centers must also engage in an annual self-assessment process. This self-assessment helps providers identify the strengths of their program. In addition, the self-assessment process allows providers to locate opportunities for growth within their program. Child care programs with the Standard Designation are involved in continuous efforts to review their programs and access resources to provide the highest level of quality possible.
Search for CCPP-approved providers. On the search page, select the “Accepts MDHS Subsidy Children” box before submitting your search.
There are currently 11 state-funded early learning collaboratives throughout the state. Each one includes a school district, Head Start agencies (if available), child care centers, and private nonprofit organizations. Learn more about early learning collaboratives from MDE.
The Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013 (PDF) authorized and directed the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) to implement a unique prekindergarten program in Mississippi. Colloquially known as “Collaboratives,” funding is disbursed each year from MDE to a lead partner (a public school district or nonprofit entity), which serves as a fiscal and administrative agent for a group of public and private care providers in Mississippi who are dedicated to delivering high-quality care.
Head Start programs support children’s growth from birth to age 5 through services centered around early learning and development, health, and family well-being.
Head Start services are available at no cost to children ages birth to 5 in eligible families. Head Start preschool services work with children ages 3 to 5 and their families. Early Head Start services work with families that have children ages birth to 3, and many also serve expectant families. Eligible children may attend prekindergarten at Head Start and Early Head Start (HS/EHS) centers.
Eligibility for HS/EHS is determined by household income and the child’s exposure to other social and environmental risk factors. HS/EHS emphasize a comprehensive approach to promoting each child’s health and development. To be eligible for HS/EHT, families must receive home visits and participate in other supplemental experiences outside of the classroom.
Head Start/Early Head Start Standards
HS/EHS centers must meet national performance standards set by the Office of Head Start. These standards are high and considered a benchmark for delivering high-quality care nationwide. HS/EHS grantees receive funds directly from the Office of Head Start in the United States Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and must comply with the administrative requirements, auditing requirements, and operational procedures set forth by ACF.
Learn More about Head Start and Early Head Start
An in-home caregiver is someone who comes to, or lives in, your home. The caregiver can be a relative, friend, or someone you pay to come to your home.
Why In-Home Care
Reasons you may want in-home care:
- In-home care may be less expensive than other kinds of care if you have three or more children needing care.
- If your child needs special care because of a physical, mental, or emotional problem.
- Your infant or toddler needs care at night.
- You need only after-school care.
In-home care can be costly, especially if you have only one or two children and are paying someone for full-time care. In-home care providers are not regulated by any state agency. Some in-home care providers belong to professional organizations or have completed certification or degree programs.
Interviewing In-Home Caregivers
In interviewing in-home caregivers, you will want to find out about their training and experience, their attitude toward children, and their ability to meet any unique needs of your child. At the very least, parents should be sure any caretaker they accept into their home has completed basic CPR and first-aid training and can pass a background check. Learn more about how to request a background check in Mississippi. You may also request a background check on a potential caretaker through a number of third-party sites.
A licensed child care center refers to a private facility that provides care to children while parents are working or unavailable to care for their children.
Child care centers typically group children of similar ages and offer some type of programming throughout the day. Some centers provide age-appropriate educational services, although this is not required in order for the facility to operate. These facilities are licensed by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) and must adhere to regulations regarding child care. Health and safety of the children in these settings is a priority.
A licensed child care home is when an independent owner/operator provides care to children in their own home while parents are working or unavailable to care for their children. These providers may care for 12 or fewer children who are not related to the provider within the third degree and who are younger than 13 years old.
Typically, some type of programming is provided throughout the day. Some providers in this setting provide age-appropriate educational services, though this is not required in order for the home to operate. These facilities are licensed by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) and must adhere to regulations regarding child care. Health and safety of the children in these settings is a priority.
Private Child Care is provided by the individual owner(s) and/or operator(s) of a small- or medium-sized business.
There are around 1,900 private child care providers in Mississippi. Services are provided in the owner’s or operator’s home or at a facility. Most private child care providers (around 1,600) are regulated by the Division of Child Care Facilities Licensure at the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) to provide a minimum standard of health and safety in the care environment. Staff working in a licensed private child care setting and all individuals living in a licensed child care home must pass a comprehensive background check.
Additionally, all child care staff working in a licensed setting must complete orientation training regarding basic health and safety issues in child care. MSDH and the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) offer a number of professional development and technical assistance opportunities to private child care providers to support their role in the care and education of Mississippi children.
Public prekindergarten services are offered in 72 school districts in Mississippi. These classrooms are regulated by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) and are funded through a combination of state and federal funds. Seats in these classrooms are limited but are available at no cost to parents of children who live in the school district. Many school districts also offer special education services to prekindergarten children. Learn more about public prekindergarten in Mississippi.
A registered family child care home refers to a private child care setting in which an individual is paid by parents to care for their children while they are working or unavailable. This setting occurs in the child care provider’s home and provides small-group (five or fewer children) care in a home-like environment.
These homes are not licensed, monitored, or otherwise regulated by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). Minimal information is maintained about these programs by the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) to assist in emergency preparedness only.
All family child care home providers who are approved to accept Child Care Payment Program recipients are registered.
An unregistered family child care provider or unlicensed child care facility refers to a private child care setting in which an individual or organization is paid by parents to care for their children while they are working or unavailable. Unregistered care providers are not monitored or regulated by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) or the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS). Unlicensed providers are monitored annually by the MSDH but are not licensed by MSDH.
NOTE: It is unlawful for any person to provide care-for-pay for more than five children at one time who are not related to the adult within the third degree.
Once you have selected a child care provider, remain involved. Talk regularly with your child care provider about activities, your child’s development and behavior, and any other concerns you, your caregiver, or your child may have. Drop in on the program at different times and assess how things are going.
Additional Resources for Parents
Find additional resources and information on childhood development, health care and insurance, and food assistance.
Get In Touch
Child Care Payment Program
Need help with the Child Care Payment Program? Call us at 800-877-7882.