HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Childcare is the backbone our workforce. To that end, the Mississippi Department of Human Services has provided millions of dollars to help providers navigate the pandemic. One of the agencies they assist is the Mississippi Early Childhood Inclusion Center.

If you are the parent of a child with special needs, the Mississippi Early Childhood Inclusion Center is ready to help, pandemic or not.

Alicia Westbrook, who is the director, said, “Families still understanding how their child is developing, or what some next steps a family might need to take if there is a concern for their child’s development.”

Like so many of us, MECIC, which is located on the Southern Miss campus, is using a lot of Zoom.

“We offer developmental screenings, as well as autism specific screenings and after these screenings, we really work with those families on that next process.”

MECIC also works with teachers so they know the best practices for early childhood inclusion and helps them earn the credentials they’ll need. They’ve also developed training to keep COVID-19 from spreading through childcare facilities.

“So rotating through their learning centers together as a group, doing things like staged group times, so that not all children are sitting on carpet squares for circle time, and then of course there are a lot of hygiene practices, and that is teaching children how to wash their hands and doing that throughout their day.”

And while in person visits are a no for now, MECIC is working harder than ever to keep Mississippi working for all of us.

Another round of virtual developmental screening is coming up September 16th. You can find out how to register for that by clicking here.