State’s Own Study Blasts Mississippi Child Welfare

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) has issued a report for Mississippi that finds the state’s Child Welfare program has been chronically starved of resources. Major findings of this review of the Mississippi Department of Human Services (DHS) Division of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) include:

  • “DFCS is under-staffed at all levels.”
  • Caseworkers and supervisors are untrained and unsupervised. “Program management staff does not have the capacity to provide functional supervision and consultation.”
  • DFCS is plagued by “a lack of resources,” especially “in the area of available placements for [foster] children.”

The CWLA report was prepared for Mississippi as expert testimony to be used in defense of the state in the August 7 trial of the federal class action lawsuit.

The CWLA report was prepared for Mississippi as expert testimony to be used in defense of the State in the August 7 trial of the federal class action lawsuit Olivia Y v. Barbour. It also finds “the move of DFCS away from professional standards [for staff] troubling” [as proposed in Senate Bill 2388 that Governor Barbour indicated support for in his press conference today].

The national child advocacy group Children’s Rights filed the suit with Mississippi lawyers in 2004 on behalf of 3,500 children in the state’s foster care system. The suit charges that the state child welfare system is understaffed, mismanaged, and fails to protect children from harm.

“Mississippi’s own expert study confirms that the state’s children are being subjected to a failed child welfare system,” said Children’s Rights attorney Eric Thompson. “The state must accept its constitutional and moral responsibilities and protect children from neglect and abuse.”

“It’s time for Mississippi to apply the political will and the funding needed to hire qualified social workers to keep children safe and healthy,” said Thompson.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Chris Iseli or Brooks Halliday // 212.683.2210