State Seeks To Curb Waste By Fingerprint Scanning Kids At Daycare Centers

Posted on September 17, 2012

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Mississippi (The Gaslamp Post) – The state of Mississippi Department of Human Services has begun enacting what they call a cost saving measure, by requiring certain children to be fingerprint scanned when they are put into daycare.  It is intended to verify that the children of parents who receive vouchers for government subsidized daycare are actually present at the centers.

Up until this point, there was no real way to determine whether or not the children whom the centers were billing the state for were actually there.

So far the state has spent $1.7 million on the scanners, and has contracted to pay Xerox another $12 million over the next 5 years as they expand the project.

Daycare center operators are crying foul over the measure, stating that the move would hurt business for them.  According to the Clarion-Ledger;

Operators said Wednesday that it’s another effort to cut payments when they already feel squeezed. They said parents may pull their children out because of the hassle or because they fear having their finger scanned.

Executive director of the Low Income Childcare, Carol Burnett, says that due to the already sharply dropping roles in children’s attendance, daycare centers are feeling the economic pinch.  Many believe that it is due to the state’s stimulus money running out.

Burnett said that this project is wasteful and that the state is more interested in blowing money at what she is calling, “frills.”  She insists that this money could be better spent in providing daycare services to more children and keeping struggling centers going.

The number of children receiving federally funded vouchers has fallen sharply in Mississippi, and many centers say they are in financial distress. Many observers say that’s because federal stimulus money ran out, but Burnett’s group argues it’s because DHS is wasting money paying for frills.

“The program needs to have more money so more children could be served and stabilize the financial situation of centers,” Burnett said.

Other states like Indiana and Oklahoma already have a similar program in place, where parents are required to swipe their children in and out of a center.  The only other state which has fingerprint scanning for federally subsidized childcare is Louisiana.

In 2010 Louisiana began using the scanners and since then have seen a dramatic drop in the billable numbers that they have had to pay out to their centers.

“I feel like it was something to cut down the number of certificates,” said one woman from Jackson, Mississippi. “Honestly, I don’t think they care to educate our children. It’s affecting mostly children of color.”

Posted in: Welfare