Child Care Finger Scanning System Has Opposition

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There was more than just coffee brewing Friday morning at Koinonia Coffee House in Jackson.

"We will fight this to the very end," said Cassandra Welchlin of the Mississippi Low Income Childcare Initiative.

Plans of action against the Department of Human Services were also being served up to stop the department's $12 million finger scanning program for child care centers.

Right now it's just a pilot program in about 30 centers across the state.

It requires parents to scan their fingers when picking up or dropping off their children. It's only for parents who are part of the certificate program receiving federal money to help pay for child care.

"We're learning more and more that childcare providers are losing money by being in the pilot program so that concerns us greatly," said Welchlin.

Welchlin says that's because glitches in the system, which aren't being caught by DHS, are causing some scans not to be read, and in turn, costing the centers lots of money.

"Many of them depended on the child care certificate program," Welchlin said. "And so, if they're losing money within a month and can't pay their staff, that's going to impact them."

Group members are now bringing their concerns to the state capitol, looking for sponsors from both the House and Senate to turn their opposition into legislation.

The opposition is not only to the scanning, but the entire system.

In the meantime, providers like Lela Taylor with G.G.'s Christian Academy in Pearl are opting out of the program, saying it victimizes parents and kids.

"I just won't put them through that," said Taylor. "We will not participate in this under any circumstance."

By opting out, Taylor will no longer be able to enroll kids using certificates and parents will have to find another place.

Welchlin says that's an unfortunate consequence to an unneeded system.

"They have a system in place, the e-ledger system. It was working perfectly," said Welchlin. "Let's leave it as it is because it's wasteful spending and it's over regulating small businesses and that's very hurtful to our economy."

Late Friday afternoon, a DHS spokesperson said she has no knowledge of specific or widespread glitches in the system. In the past, DHS has stood by the system claiming it will help reduce fraud and streamline services and payments to providers.