Mississippi Department of Human Services Launches Initiative to Create New Child Care Programs and Develop a Statewide Substitute Teacher Pool

JACKSON, MS — The Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) announced today a new partnership with Wonderschool, the child care management platform that streamlines the business of running child care programs, to address the urgent need for flexible and high-quality child care across the state. The new initiative will recruit educators and help them launch new home-based child care programs where there are not enough, give existing providers tools and data to build sustainable programs, and create one of the first statewide substitute teaching pools in the country to help address short-term care needs.

Early childhood workforce shortages across the country persist: since 2020, 8.4% of the child care workforce have left for other professions. Through this partnership with Wonderschool, Mississippi is taking a proactive step to recruit child care providers and create a quality substitute pool to undergird the work of existing providers.

“Child Care is critical to supporting parents in the workforce. Mississippi is committed to ensuring families across our state have access to consistent, quality child care,” said Robert G. “Bob” Anderson, Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. “Our collaboration with Wonderschool is one of the proactive steps we’re taking to expand access to high-quality and affordable care to families, while filling the gaps in teacher shortages through the innovative substitute teacher pool.”

In the coming year, DHS will work with Wonderschool to expand child care access across the state by supporting the startup of home-based child care programs. Using the Wonderschool platform, providers can access help with operations, communicating with families, and marketing to attract enrollment, as well as expert coaching to build their program and assist with licensing compliance.

“Every family deserves access to reliable, quality care options that best fit the needs of their child and family. Home-based child care providers are uniquely suited to serve the needs of their local communities. We’re honored to partner with the Mississippi Department of Human Services to not only address the demand for child care across the state, but to also foster a thriving community of education entrepreneurs,” said Chris Bennett, Founder and CEO of Wonderschool.

To support the sustainability of new child care supply and ensure existing providers can stay afloat, the partnership will also provide funding to establish a state-wide substitute pool that allows qualified, pre-screened educators to work at Child Care Payment Programs and provide substitute care. This will fortify flexible and reliable child care provisions.

The Wonderschool platform will be available statewide, with an emphasis on interested providers across 15 priority counties, serving parents and children who are in child care deserts or communities of high need – including Jefferson, Hinds, Wilkinson, Washington, Humphreys, Noxubee, Coahoma, Claiborne, Issaquena, Forrest, Warren, Clay, Lee, Madison, and Benton. The initiative will also support 50 existing providers, offering them the business support to strengthen their programs.

Deployed already across a growing number of states, the Wonderschool platform provides child care entrepreneurs with the tools and infrastructure needed to establish and sustain programs.

To learn more about the initiative, visit: https://www.wonderschool.com/corp/mississippi.