Mississippi's Failed Foster Care System
A federal judge is giving Mississippi more time to fix the state's broken foster care system. A lawsuit filed more than a decade ago is still in the court system -- challenging how the state treats its foster children. The suit was conditionally settled in 2008, but plaintiffs accused the state of violating the terms of the settlement in 2010. Since then the state has established a new department to handle foster cases -- the Department of Child Protective Services. In yesterday's action, the federal judge gave the state more time and more targets in the effort to reform the troubled agency. Sara Glasser is with the advocacy group A Better Childhood. She's one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. Glasser told MPB's Evelina Burnett the new order includes targets such as caseload and technology standards.
Mississippi has about 35,000 children with persistent mental health needs -- according to the state Department of Mental Health. But advocates say what the state doesn't have is a reliable, effective system of treating those children. That’s why the city of Jackson and child welfare organizations are joining forces to create the Beginnings Determine Success – or BuDS -- Initiative. It seeks to serve young children with mental health challenges. Joy Hogge is with Families As Allies, one of the groups behind the program. She told MPB's Paul Boger too often families don't know where to go for help.
Coaches and trainers of Mississippi's student athletes are keeping the kids' health and safety top priority. While physical performance is important for young players in the competitive world of Mississippi sports, preventing damage and injury from concussion and improper hydration is vital. Dr. Brian Tollefson is a sports medicine professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He told MPB's Mark Rigsby at the Mississippi Student-Athlete Sports Forum in Jackson awareness of athlete safety has grown in recent years.
Most Mississippi students are enjoying the first days of summer break now. And for parents and educators, this means the danger of summer learning loss -- when students stall or decrease their learning while not in the classroom. One nonprofit -- Operation Shoestring -- works to combat summer learning loss with programs that are active all summer. We spoke with Robert Langford -- head of Operation Shoestring. And Marquita Washington -- who has children in the programs. Langford said lower income children are especially vulnerable to summer learning loss.