Calling all Mississippi parents: Let’s talk about child care

Are the daycares where thousands of Mississippi children spend each day warm and welcoming? Are they a place where young minds are nurtured and expanded? And perhaps most importantly, are they safe?

In Mississippi, it’s not always easy for parents to get the answers to these questions. That’s why two years ago, The Hechinger Report, in partnership with the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, began an investigation into the state’s child care system.

We’ll be publishing results of our reporting in a series of stories soon, but before we do, we want to reach out to as many parents as possible to make sure their voices are well represented.

We’re launching a Facebook group, Mississippi Child Care Parent Group, and inviting any and all parents in the state to join. We want to this group to be a space for you to share tips and resources with each other, to seek help for dealing with problems, or to recommend great centers.

We’ll follow the conversation and take part whenever it’s helpful. In particular, we’d like to share information we’ve gathered over the past two years, including copies of routine inspection reports from every child care center in the Mississippi Department of Health’s District Five (which contains Claiborne, Cophia, Hinds, Madison, Rankin, Simpson, Sharkey-Issaquena, Warren and Yazoo counties). We also have records of complaints and their subsequent investigations from centers in these counties.

It took a bit of a fight, but we ultimately got these documents for a reasonable price. In the coming months we’ll be making the records public in an online database.

Until we launch the full database, feel free to use this Facebook group to request inspection reports for any center you’re interested in. If we have the record, we’ll share what we know with the group. If we don’t have information on your center, we’ll help you get it.

The group is public and we may want to use something you say in our reporting, but we won’t publish any names or use any stories in our articles without permission. More than anything, we want this to be a place of discussion and collaboration among parents. Join us today and help get the conversation started.

This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

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