A judge has signed a new remedial order that gives Mississippi more time and some more targets in the effort to reform its troubled child welfare system. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports.
An earlier remedial order, signed in December, required the state to take certain steps before May. The new order sets out some additional targets for the state based on a review of the child welfare system by an expert group. Sara Glasser is one of the attorneys representing the plaintiff foster children in the lawsuit. She says, with an infusion of new funding, the state is building the infrastructure it needs to move forward.
If you don't have enough social workers, or you don't have enough licensed foster homes, you cannot safely place children and you cannot make sure the children are safe in the placements which they have," she says.
The new funding will help pay for new social workers and new employees to help process foster parent applications. Another step the state agreed to take was to make the child welfare agency independent.
A bill that moves the agency in that direction was recently signed into law by the governor. David Chandler is the commissioner of the new Department of Child Protection Services. He told MPB News in a recent interview this change will help streamline and focus the agency.
"it'll be a slim and trim and nimble small state agency that focuses only on child protection services," he says.
The plaintiffs have agreed to postpone until October their motion asking the court to appoint a federal receiver to take over the state’s child welfare system. But they did caution they can move forward with this motion any time after a progress report due July 15.