Mississippi’s governor is expected to sign several laws today that could reshape the adoption and foster care system throughout the state.
Several bills could reshape Mississippi's adoption and foster care system
Lawmakers and elected officials in Mississippi made it a priority this year to pass legislation that could reform the state’s adoption and foster care system. This movement came as a reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs, which triggered Mississippi’s 2007 abortion ban. Andrea Sanders, Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services, says not all of those additional births will lead to placement in state custody. But she says there will be some vulnerable families in need of assistance.
“Our goal is to make sure that children don’t stay in custody longer than they need to,” says Sanders. “It’s better for children, better for families, and it also is one way of ensuring that we are able to use the resources that we have to make sure that we meet all of the needs.”
Around eight major bills were passed in the legislature that directly affect the childcare system. One of them, House Bill 1149, combines three initiatives into one piece of legislation. Sanders says if the bill is signed by the governor, it will make CPS an independent state agency, streamline adoptions, and clear a pathway for guardianship in the court system. She says the legal roadblocks children face while in state custody can keep them in child-care limbo for years.
Sanders says “We want them in custody when it’s necessary for their safety, and not a day longer. The state is always going to be a poor substitute for a family. Children don’t need to come in and just live in foster care or in custody. They either need to go back to their biological family if that can be done so safely, or they need to move with some efficiency to a more permanent setting.”
Governor Tate Reeves is expected to sign many, if not all bills relating to CPS today during a press conference.