Boyd also talked about her appointment to the NCSL Early Childhood Fellows Program, legislative priorities, and more.
At the end of June, Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann announced the creation of a bipartisan, nine-member Mississippi Senate Study Group on Women, Children and Families. The group is tasked with making legislative recommendations related to families and young children, birth to 3 years old.
This comes as the state moves into the next phase of assessing how best to assist families in this post-Roe environment.
Members of the nine-member Senate Study Group include Senators Kevin Blackwell (R), Hob Bryan (D), Dean Kirby (R), Rod Hickman (D), Angela Hill (R), Chad McMahan (R), Angela Turner-Ford (D), and Brice Wiggins (R).
Senator Nicole Boyd (R) will chair the Study Group.
The lawmakers are set to meet on September 27 and 28 as well as October 25 and 26. Additional hearing dates or topics may be added as necessary.
The public is invited to submit written testimony to [email protected], which will be shared with the full study group.
Chairwoman Senator Boyd met with Y’all Politics on Thursday. She said the group wants to hear from the public.
Legislative recommendations that the group will examine may include easing adoption and foster care, supporting children who are under the care of the state, maximizing child support, growing the childcare workforce, increasing the availability of affordable childcare, and early intervention.
Senator Boyd said the lawmakers want to hear about experiences across the state, which will allow the group to follow up with questions that the general public has on these issues.
“We know as women that finding childcare is a really difficult task. And so we want to make sure that we’re kind of looking at how we help women get back into the workforce,” Senator Boyd said.
The Senator, who represents Senate District 9, said that Mississippi does not have children enrolled in early intervention that should be. Boyd added that they know that it has long-term effects by not getting those children in to early intervention.
“We know that when we can get them into early intervention, get them early treatment, this will help them be school ready and will effect outcomes for the rest of their lives,” Boyd continued.
Senator Boyd noted that the group will be looking at pregnancy prevention and “how they help people in that arena as well.”
Senator Boyd, who also serves as Vice-Chair of the Senate Universities and Colleges Committee, said that the largest number of abortions are in the college age group.
Senator @NicoleAkinsBoyd says college age women have been the ones most likely to seek #abortions. She says the Mississippi Senate Study Group will be looking at pregnancy prevention assistance at state colleges and universities. #msleg pic.twitter.com/MrW1cJNDkZ
— Yall Politics (@MSyallpolitics) August 4, 2022
“These women have completed high school and they are in some type of post-secondary either job training or education,” Boyd said. “And so immediately what we are going to need to be looking at is really working with our colleges and universities to make sure that pregnancy prevention is indeed a big focus at those universities and colleges.”
Shortly after the Senate Study Group on Women, Children and Families was announced, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) announced the 10th class of its Early Childhood Fellows Program for state legislators and legislative staff.
Mississippi State Senators Boyd and Turner-Ford were among legislators and staff from a variety of states that were named as fellows in this year’s program.
“These appointments come at the perfect time, as Senator Boyd is leading the Senate Study Group on Women, Children, and Families, and Senator Turner-Ford is a member of the group,” Lt. Governor Hosemann told Y’all Politics. “A child’s brain is our greatest asset, which is why childhood learning and development is of critical importance to the Mississippi Senate.”
The Early Childhood Fellows Program has sessions that cover: early brain development; access to affordable, high-quality childcare and voluntary home visiting; family economic security; systems design and governance; financing strategies; workforce training and support; and much more.
“We’re looking nationally at how states are addressing issues in early childhood and one of the things that comes across very quickly: when you look at early childhood, you really have to address the family,” Boyd said. “We’re looking at the programs that are working in other states, some kind of best practices that we’re seeing across country, and we’re able to talk with our colleagues. Sometimes what’s most helpful is finding things that didn’t work so we know not to make those mistakes here in Mississippi.”
“We’ve got some challenges in this state. We’ve got some opportunities to really change the trajectory of the state,” Boyd continued.
The Senator said that one of the statistics that hit both she and Senator Turner-Ford in the face was that 39% of children that are born in Mississippi are born to a household where there is not a full-time working parent.
“That is a significant statistic and that’s one that we’ve got to change,” Boyd said. “That’s one of the things we’re looking at on this particular committee is we’re looking at how we can help these mothers get back into the work force and because we know that the economic abilities of these families to support these children is absolutely critical to the outcomes of that these children are going to have in our state.”