New order changes federal court date for foster care case - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

New order changes federal court date for foster care case

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi is trying to avoid a federal takeover of its foster care system.The Department of Child Protection Services got the good news about a new court order Friday. Bottom line, it buys them more time to mend the broken system.

The message to the legislature was simple. Show us the money or the system will get taken over by the feds. It was a big ask in a tight budget year, $34.5 million. And they got it all.

"We're making progress, no doubt about it," explained Dr. David Chandler. "But let me hasten to say we have an awful lot of work to do."

The Department of Child Protection Services is still working on a deadline for the federal court but it's been extended.

"The court date was May 15 primarily to discuss what actions should be taken in the event there was not sufficient funding," said Chandler. "That date has been moved to October." 

Commissioner Dr. David Chandler said there are two priority items moving forward: hiring more social workers and increasing the starting salaries so they are more competitive with fellow agencies.

"For us to be able to hire the number of people we must hire to properly take care of the children is an enormous task," noted Chandler.

The Department will need 204 more workers hired and trained by that October court date. But they have to get the first wave of them hired by July 1.

"We must put them to work in such a way so that they are not completely overwhelmed with the tasks facing them," said Chandler.

Some new employees can't be hired until July 1 when the agency will get the money to start paying them.

Commissioner Chandler said they're looking to the state's universities to recruit the new social workers for these added positions. They're due back in court October 17.

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