Carol Burnett, Executive Director
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Burnett photo

Carol is founder and Executive Director of the Mississippi Low-Income Child Care Initiative. She also serves as the Executive Director of Moore Community House, a nonprofit community center providing early childhood and comprehensive family programs for poor and low-income families in east Biloxi. Carol served as Director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services Office of Children and Youth, where she administered Mississippi's federally funded child care subsidy programs. During her tenure Mississippi used more federal funds for child care than any year before or since.  She currently serves as a member of the Boards of Directors of the ECD Hope Community Credit Union, Hope Community Development Agency, the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, and on the Advisory Board of Mississippi Building Blocks.She is the recipient of the Ms. Foundation Gloria Award, Outstanding Woman of the Gulf Coast award, the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference Founder's award and the MS State NAACP Vernon Dahmer award. Carol is an ordained United Methodist minister in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church and has a Masters Degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York, NY.

Margie Van Meter, Step-Up Project Manager
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Margie is responsible for collecting and organizing expenditure data in the Step Up Project.  She also serves as a liaison between staff, contractors and vendors requesting reimbursement checks from the grant.  Before joining MLICCI, Margie was employed in the policy unit of the Office for Children and Youth, MS Department of Human Services, and also with a local child advocacy organization.  She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and an MBA in nonprofit management from Yale. 

Jearlean Osborne, Step-Up Project Coordinator
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Jearlean Osborne is a community organizer for the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative. She has organized community groups for more than twenty years, helping them to become more self-sufficient. She uses the "learner-centered" approach for getting people to step outside their comfort zone to advocate and promote positive changes in their community. This method has proven to be very successful in getting organizations to actively seek community funding to sustain their work as well as develop a sense of commitment and ownership at the local level.

Jearlean's passion for working with communities grew out of her experiences as a disenfranchised person within her own community. She has extensive experience and expertise in: early childhood education, adult literacy, non-profit board development, and advocacy with and for poor and low-income children and their families. Jearlean served on the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits board in Jackson, Mississippi, where she was Chair of the Board Development Committee. She has written several curriculum guides: "Welfare Rights and Change," "My Community," and "The ABC'S to Advocating for The Rights of Children in the Public School System."

Jearlean is a 1993 graduate of Leadership Gulf Coast and has earned numerous awards including the Laurel Wreath Award, Zeta Phi Beta Outstanding Community Service Award, and NAACP Outstanding Community Service Award. She received her CDA certification in 1990.

Jocelyn Bass, Step-Up Project On-Site Technical Assistant
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Jocelyn Bass is a technical assistant for the Step-Up Project.  As a Mississippi native, Jocelyn has a great desire to improve the quality of care for Mississippi’s youngest and most vulnerable population, children.  Her early childhood career includes hands on experience as a preschool teacher and director.  Jocelyn also worked as an early childhood program manager with Save the Children overseeing recovery efforts and summer programs during the aftermath of Katrina in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Most recently, Jocelyn served as a child care training coordinator with The Mississippi Child Care Resource and Referral Network (a division of Mississippi State University Extension Service) for Harrison, Hancock, and Jackson Counties.  Jocelyn received her bachelor degree from William Carey University and has completed numerous hours of training in early childhood and family studies.  Jocelyn and her husband Patrick reside in Gulfport with their three children, Kristin, James and Jacob.

Shawanda Collins, Step-Up Project On-Site Technical Assistant
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Shawanda provides onsite technical assistance to child care centers in Clarksdale, Humphreys County and West Bolivar. She holds an Associate of Applied Science Degree from Northwest MS Community College, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Jackson State University. She has been educating children and working with families since 1998. Before joining the Mississippi Step- Up team, she provided technical assistance to child care centers statewide for the Early Childhood Institute at MSU on a program called Partners for Quality Child Care.  Prior to working on the Partners’ project, she worked with Hinds County Human Resource Agency as a teacher.  She is also an enthusiastic instructional leader, who cares about the well-being of children and families in Mississippi.  

Deloris McWright, Child Care Solutions Coordinator
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Deloris is the Project Director for MLICCI’s Child and Adult Care Food Project called, “Child Care Solutions.” Before joining the MLICCI team, Deloris taught 26 years in Leland, MS, and after retirement Deloris opened Mother Goose Learning Center, a child care center. Deloris is a native of Leland. She has a BS in Business Education and a Masters Degrees in Elementary Education and Reading  In 2007 Deloris was named,  “Minority Business Woman of the Year”, by the Delta Regional Minority Business Association. Deloris is a member of the St. Peter M.B. Church.

Cassandra Welchlin, Child Care Matters Director
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Cassandra is a native Mississippian and change agent for low wealth communities of color.  She graduated from Jackson State University and is a licensed Social Worker.  Cassandra received a Master from Brandeis University in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.  For the past 7 years she has worked with organizations at the local, state, regional and national level to developed strategies and create opportunities to address the social, political, economical and ecological injustices in low wealth communities of color that grows out of racial inequitable in public policy.   Cassandra works to build local leadership and partnerships in order to organize their efforts and support their community’s power for the purpose of eradicating racial inequity.   Currently she is a policy/advocacy consultant managing the Child Care Matters Campaign for the MS Low Income Child Care Initiative.

MLICCI PO Box 204, Biloxi, MS 39533   |   228.669.4827   |   info @