November 22, 2012 -
Starting in February 2013, low-income parents receiving subsidized childcare for their children in Mississippi will have to be fingerprint scanned when dropping their kids on and off at daycare centers across the state.
Aimed at saving funds by not paying for children who are not actually being looked after on any particular day, this has been a controversial decision by the Mississippi Department of Human Services (DHS), djournal.com reported.
The DHS maintains the system is designed to reduce the amount of fraud and streamline services.
“The Division of Early Childhood Care and Development is working to maximize federal dollars so that more low-income families in Mississippi have access to quality child care,” a statement from the department read.
According to a Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) report, the state of Mississippi has spent USD$1.7 million to buy the equipment and it will pay a subsidiary of Xerox nearly $13 million over five years to manage the e-Childcare system.
A similar system was implemented in Louisiana using solutions from ACS, a subsidiary of Xerox. Though it hasn’t been confirmed, it’s expected the same e-Childcare system from ACS that was implemented in Louisiana will be used in Mississippi.
Daycare providers and parents have both expressed concern around this new biometric system. According to the MPR report, qualms have included finger scanning scaring away parents in need of subsidized care for their children, using federal funds to pay for the program that could otherwise be put towards additional childcare slots for low-income children and additional costs that could be passed on to providers.
This is not the first time fingerprint authentication has been used in a childcare center. As reported previously in BiometricUpdate.com, a childcare center in South Dakota has implemented a biometric fingerprint identification system to control access to the building and maintain a high level of security, restricting access inside.
Currently there are 18,600 enrolled in subsidized childcare in Mississippi and 8,000 remain on the waiting list.