HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – A new Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral center has opened in Hattiesburg.

A ribbon cutting for the new center was held on Tuesday, September 19. The center is located on Highway49 and is part of the Mississippi State University (MSU) Extension Service.

Officials said the center offers educational and early childhood resources to families, kids and teachers by helping parents choose a childcare center, offers training referrals to teachers and gives access to books and educational materials that can be checked out.

Directors said providing the right resources are critical for a child’s development.

“The brain develops between the ages of birth and three, and those are the most critical learning times for those children. And so, it’s very important for parents to have the resources and learn that reading, singing, and talking to their children is what language development is, that’s how it starts. That’s how they learn to read, so the parents are that child’s first teacher before they ever enter a child care program or a preschool,” explained Dr. Louise Davis, executive director of Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral Network.

MSU Extension hopes to have 50 centers open across the state by 2025.