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Child care available for only 23 percent of Mississippi’s infants and toddlers, report finds

November 6, 2018
Jackie Mader
The Hechninger Report

Mississippi’s child care desert is especially evident for infants and toddlers: There are currently only enough spots at licensed child care centers for about 23 percent of the state’s youngest children.

That’s one of the findings of a new report by the Center for American Progress, which analyzed census data and state child care licensing data to determine the extent to which infant and toddler care is available in nine states, including Mississippi, North Carolina and West Virginia, and in the District of Columbia. The report takes an in-depth look at data revealed last year in another Center for American Progress report that found 42 percent of children under the age of 5 live in a child care desert, defined as areas in which there are either no child care centers or so few centers that at least three children need care for every spot available.

Nationwide, more than half of all infants and toddlers are in the care of their father or a grandparent during their mother’s work hours, but about 16 percent of infants and 25 percent of toddlers are in center-based licensed child care. Child care centers, which represent the majority of available child care spots in the United States, tend to have more spaces available to serve kids than home-based providers, which are often limited to serving small groups of children.