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Childcare on the agenda

MBJ Editorial

Low-income childcare is an issue garnering increased attention from the Mississippi business community.

That`s a good thing.

For far too long, the working poor have been left to contend with, at best, limited options on childcare. In our society, we expect everyone to contribute, to work hard, to be responsible. Yet, we are quick to take away the bootstraps people need to pull themselves up.

Affordable and available childcare is one of those straps.

It is unfortunate that we preach family values, but tend to implement Darwinian policies, placing the highest value on a win-at-all costs, everyone-for-themselves mindset. No greater good could come to American culture than the embrace of personal responsibility, but that does not mean we ought to cast to the wind those who have made bad choices or those left in circumstances where there are no good choices to make.

Last week at a press conference in Jackson, the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative released a report highlighting the importance of quality childcare as an economic development tool. “Investing in Futures: The Business of Child Care” focused on a number of important points:

– Childcare allows parents of young children to enter the workforce – and stay there.

– Childcare reduces employee absenteeism and turnover, which leads to increased productivity, stability and reduced costs for employers.

– Childcare plays a vital role in job creation and workforce development.

Mississippi has been growing out of poverty in recent decades, but we have a long way to go. Moving forward requires a commitment to education and training, continued progress on racial and class understanding and tearing down the barriers that prevent people who want to work – who want to do the right thing – from doing it.

Working together, the private and public stakeholders in building a better Mississippi can see to it that childcare isn`t one of those barriers.

Additional information about the “Investing in Futures: The Business of Child Care” report is online at www.mschildcare.org.

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