Children who are abused or neglected often don't have an advocate. That's why the Safe Babies Court Teams are expanding to a second Mississippi county.
"We know by research, what? Maltreated children ended up having a higher indicators of what? Juvenile delinquency," said Youth Court Judge Mike McPhail.
McPhail has led the Safe Babies Court Teams program in Forrest County for a decade.
"Some days are going to be rough and tumble but when it makes a difference and you can see smiles on people's faces and children that are safe, secure, in permanent homes, that makes all the difference in the world," McPhail noted.
The program asks the community to get involved. DHS says everyone can be watchdogs to keep Mississippi kids safe.
"They are the most vulnerable," explained Kim Shackelford, Deputy Administrator for Family and Children's Services for MDHS. "They're not verbal. They can't tell anybody what's happening to them. They're confined into their homes where people don't see them regularly."
Rankin County Youth Court Judge Thomas Broome wants to help break the cycle. He thinks it's possible for those children and families to be successful, if given the right resources.
"If we want to solve our problems with our society, we need to invest on the front end as opposed to invest on the back end," said Broome.
There's a full circle effect. You as a taxpayer of Mississippi are saving money because the kids involved in the program are getting out of state foster care faster.