Finger Scanning Debate Continues

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

Opponents of a child care finger scanning system in Mississippi say it is causing financial harm to providers who are part of it and they are point their fingers at the Department of Human Services.

There was more than just coffee brewing Friday morning at Koininia coffee house in Jackson.

"We will fight this to the very end," according to Cassandra Welchlin with 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," Welchlin says.

She 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 and so if they're losing money within a month and can't pay their staff, that's going to impact them," she adds.

Group members are now bringing their concerns here 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," Lela Taylor with G.G.'s Christian Academy says. "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.

A DHS spokesperson says 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.


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