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 research and advocacy.
How We Support Early Education
As we expand our impact focus to 0-5, we have developed five areas of work to continue to grow support and access to high-quality early education in Mississippi.
Types of Early Education Programs in Mississippi
Licensed Childcare for Very Young Children
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
Early Learning Collaboratives (ELCs), our state-funded pre-K programs, currently operate in 37 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
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.
Pre-K Tax Credit for Individuals and Businesses
Are you interested in learning more about how you can receive a tax credit by donating to early learning collaboratives?
Mississippi Beginnings Curriculum Resources
The Research Supporting Mississippi Beginnings
Mississippi First created this resource to illustrate the research supporting Mississippi’s state-funded pre-K curriculum.
Mississippi Beginnings: Curriculum Guide
Mississippi First created this resource so educators and leaders can quickly access the necessary guides for instruction.
Latest News About Early Education
- Fair Pay for Fair WorkEditor’s Note: This post is one in an ongoing series of posts dedicated to early education policy in Mississippi. *** By Micayla Tatum I Director of Early Childhood Policy A lack of wage parity is … Read more
- We Raised The Rate: 2023 Pre-K Legislative ReviewBy Micayla Tatum I Director of Early Childhood Policy After four legislative sessions, we are excited to announce that our bill to permanently raise the per-pupil funding rate, HB 817, passed! The … Read more
- Navigating a Winding Path: Earning an Early Childhood CredentialEditor’s Note: This post is one in an ongoing series of posts dedicated to early education policy in Mississippi. *** By Micayla Tatum I Director of Early Childhood Policy The educator pipeline crisis, which Mississippi … Read more
Our Research and Publications on Early Education
Check out our Publications page to see our extensive research and reports on early education in Mississippi.