Case Study: Addressing Child Care Staff Shortages in Mississippi Through Strategic Partnership

By
Wonderschool
June 30, 2024

To tackle severe staffing shortages in Mississippi's child care centers, the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) partnered with Wonderschool. This strategic collaboration introduced the Wonderschool Substitute Teaching Platform, which successfully connected providers with qualified substitutes, improving operational stability and the quality of early childhood education.

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Challenge:

Child care centers across the U.S. face severe staff shortages, with seven in ten centers unable to fully enroll children due to lack of staff. This issue significantly impacts the quality of care and education provided, placing a tremendous burden on directors and administrators. In Mississippi, the strain was particularly acute, forcing many child care providers to scramble for assistance or close their doors altogether.

Solution:

Recognizing the urgent need for a solution, the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) partnered with Wonderschool in 2023. This collaboration aimed to create a statewide platform to connect child care providers with local substitute teachers, addressing staffing shortages and enhancing the quality of early childhood education. The initiative was part of a broader MDHS strategy to implement supportive programs, including the creation of new child care programs and the Wonderschool Substitute Teaching Platform.

Implementation and Results:

The Wonderschool SubPool platform quickly demonstrated its effectiveness, bringing significant positive changes within a few months of its launch:

  • 70% Job Match Rate: The platform achieved a 70% job match rate, ensuring that most child care centers could find suitable substitutes promptly.
  • One-Third Provider Participation: One-third of all licensed child care providers in the state joined the SubPool within the first few months, indicating strong community trust and rapid adoption.
  • 3,500 Applications: The platform received 3,500 applications from individuals interested in substitute teaching, highlighting high demand and enthusiasm for such opportunities.

Why MDHS Partnered with Wonderschool:

MDHS recognized the need for a multifaceted approach to support early childhood education. By partnering with Wonderschool, MDHS aimed to:

  • Provide a reliable substitute teaching platform to alleviate staffing shortages.
  • Create new child care programs to expand access and improve the quality of early childhood education.
  • Implement supportive measures to address the needs of both providers and teachers, ensuring a comprehensive approach to child care challenges.

Leadership Perspective:

"We've put in place several different programs to offer those additional supports, which include the substitute pool program that Wonderschool provides. We made a very good decision," said Dr. Chad Allgood, MDHS Director, Division of Early Childhood Care & Development.

Testimonials: Real Impact from the Field

The success of the SubPool platform is best illustrated through the experiences of those directly impacted:

  • "The SubPool has been beyond amazing. It allows a lot of flexibility while doing something I truly love and enjoy, which is making a positive difference in a child's life! The SubPool allows me to pick up jobs that fit my schedule." - Shaquita J., Wonderschool Substitute.
  • "I would wake up each morning in fear that someone would be absent. We had to get board members, friends, family, van drivers, and our financial advisor qualified to fill in if teachers were out. But now! It is so easy and convenient to log in, post a job, and immediately have willing applicants." - Nancy Sylvester, Director, Global Connection Academy.

Conclusion:

The partnership between Wonderschool and MDHS has successfully addressed a critical gap in Mississippi's child care sector. By providing a reliable, efficient platform for connecting child care providers with substitute teachers, the SubPool has significantly improved operational stability and the quality of care provided to children. This initiative stands as a model of effective collaboration and innovative problem-solving, with promising implications for other states facing similar challenges.

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