JACKSON, Miss (WJTV) – A longstanding lawsuit is behind Governor Phil Bryant’s commitment of millions of dollars to Mississippi’s troubled foster care system.
We’re told these funds could be available in less than two months.
WJTV spoke with the CEO of Mississippi Children’s Home Services about plans for that money, but we didn’t get a direct answer about plans or the lawsuit.
This is an additional 34 million dollars. It’s enough to raise salaries for current social workers and hire new workers, but more importantly, improve the lives of foster care children.
“Each year we serve about 10,000 kids in our organization, but there’s a much larger network of kids out there,” said Dr. John Damon, Mississippi Children’s Home Service CEO.
There are five thousand kids in state custody; many have had a hard life in foster care. We’re told lawmakers committed the money to avoid a federal court takeover because of a long-running lawsuit that said the state had done too little to protect foster children from abuse.
Part of today’s mental health summit was to address the problems in the system. Churches, business, and organizations across the state are pitching in to help.
“This is a unique moment in our state’s history for kids, and we need
to be good stewards, have good stewardship over it,” said Dr. Damon.
This is the third year the organization has held their children’s mental health summit, and today, Governor Bryant made a huge announcement.
“He said two years ago children need to be a priority last year he said we’re going to make them a priority. We’re going to get it done this year. This year he was able to stand and say the biggest increase we’ve ever had in child welfare, 33 million dollars going to the child welfare department to reform our child welfare system,” said Dr. Damon.
The child welfare department can expect those funds to be available July 1st.