Early education is a founding policy area for Mississippi First. In our initial phase of work, we authored and successfully advocated for the Early Learning Collaborative Act, which established state-funded pre-K in Mississippi in 2013. Today, we are dedicated to ensuring quality as the program scales, protecting our gains since 2013, and deepening our work in the 0-5 space through childcare research and advocacy.

Types of Early Education Programs in Mississippi

Licensed Childcare for Very Young Children
Serves 0-5-Year-Olds

A licensed childcare program provides supervised care to children of any age for which the facility is licensed by the State Department of Health. Examples include childcare programs located in church facilities, private businesses, or private residences. Some Head Start centers must also be licensed, if not affiliated with an educational institution such as a public school. Licensed childcare programs can also serve older children through summer programs and before and after school care.

Early Head Start & Head Start
Serves Toddlers Under the Age of 3 & 3-5-Year-Olds

Early Head Start and Head Start are programs of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. They provide comprehensive early childhood education, health, nutrition, and family engagement services to low-income children and their families. Every county in Mississippi has at least one Head Start center.

Early Learning Collaboratives
Serves 4-Year-Olds

Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs), our state-funded pre-K programs, currently operate in 35 communities and serve over 6,000 students. ELCs involve many partners, including school districts, Head Starts, and licensed childcare providers. These partners commit to working together to provide high-quality pre-K to Mississippi’s four-year-olds. Collaboratives are overseen by the Mississippi Department of Education, even though individual providers may also have other oversight agencies.

Other Public School Pre-K Programs
Serve 4-Year-Olds

These other pre-K programs are operated by a Mississippi public school district. Districts may offer six types of other public school pre-K programs, if they choose, categorized mainly by their funding source and its related restrictions, including Title I, local district, tuition-based, blended, hybrid, or externally funded programs.

Latest News About Early Education

  • New Research: State of Pre-K, Brief #4
    Brief #4: Access to Pre-K, 2017-2018 This is the fourth and final brief in the State of Pre-K Series. The 2021 pre-K briefs as a whole provide strong evidence that the collaborative…
  • Pre-K in the 2022 Legislative Session
    The 2022 legislative session was a wild ride for pre-K. Our bill to permanently change the per-pupil funding rate, HB 1246, died late in the session due to unrelated politics. This bill…
  • MDE releases a new round of Early Learning Collaborative RFPs
    On February 4, 2022, The Mississippi Department of Education released the RFP for Early Learning Collaborative Council Pre-Kindergarten Application Cohort IV Round III. Below, we have pulled out important details from the…

Our Research and Publications on Early Education

Check out our Publications page to see our extensive research and reports on early education in Mississippi.