At a child care center in Clinton, children spend their days in colorful classrooms, supervised by qualified lead teachers, all of whom have college degrees. During outdoor time, the children can run up and down a grassy hill, explore a sensory herb garden, or play on a playground that cost roughly $180,000 to build.
About 10 miles away at a daycare center in North Jackson, the classrooms are also stocked with toys and books, thanks to a nonprofit program, but caregivers only need a high school diploma. Outside, children can play with hula-hoops or bounce balls on the side of the building. Playground equipment is too expensive.
Most of the children at the Clinton center are white; the Jackson center enrolls predominantly black children.
Child care advocates in the state worry that the effects of decades of extreme poverty among black Mississippians and a history fraught with racial tension have trickled down into child care centers, disproportionately impacting black children. In visits to 30 child care centers in central Mississippi, reporters saw centers split along lines of race and class, and plagued by the same problems that affect the state’s racially and economically divided public schools. (The Hechinger Report)