Mississippi’s foster care system could face a Federal takeover

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The organization that makes sure Mississippi’s children are properly taken care of could soon be taken over

A report finds the Department of Child Protective Services is failing to meet standards in a court order.

The agency has around 4,700 foster care children and now it is being brought back to court.

Marcia Robinson Lowery Founder and Executive Director of ‘A Better Childhood’ is suing the state on behalf of a child.

 “They never comply and this has been going on for 10 years and the kids in this system do not have the  protections to which they are entitled which the state promised them more than 10 years ago, so we will seek a receivership at this point,” Lowery said.

“We were not surprised with the court report we knew that we are still having a lot of work to comply with the court agreement,” said Lea Anne Brandon Director of communications MDCPS.

The report by a court monitor found Mississippi met only 37 of the 113 standards, and  it wasn’t complying with 35.

The monitor couldn’t determine if the state was meeting 31 other standards either because data isn’t available in the state’s computer system or because department employees didn’t correctly enter data.

The agency says it now has funding to comply with the court’s request 

“The legislature generously gave us an increase of $15 million dollars— that’s going to allow us to do two extremely important things one of the big things in the court report the monitors report was that our caseloads are not in compliance and that affects like child visits and that type of stuff,” Brandon said.

She adds the department will begin hiring new case workers and is developing new software to keep up with the data.

Yet, both sides disagree on who should be in control.

“Ten years is a long time to wait, I have a long attention span it is necessary to turn the control of the system over to someone who is responsible to the federal court not to a Governor,” Lowery said.

“We need time to continue on the path that we’re on a lot of people say we abandoned the children of Mississippi, and we’ve ignored their safety concerns and that is just not true,” Brandon said.

The report also indicated 95 of about 8,000 children were mistreated during the monitoring period.

U.S. District Judge Tom Lee  is overseeing this case.

The federal government is sending $10 million to the department to help.

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