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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 21, 2008

 

BARBOUR COMMENDS DHS FOR IMPROVING FAMILY, CHILD WELFARE SERVICES

 

Agency successfully completes federal program improvement plan

 

(JACKSON, Miss.) - The Mississippi Department of Human Services has successfully completed a federal program improvement plan resulting in improved family and child welfare and protection, Governor Haley Barbour announced today.

 

“The staff of DHS has worked hard to overcome many challenges, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, to meet these federal performance standards and data goals,” Governor Barbour said. “Completion of this process is a tremendous accomplishment which will have a positive impact on the many families and children serviced by the Division of Family and Children’s Services.”

 

Since 2004, the agency’s Division of Family and Children’s Services has collaborated with federal officials to make significant systemic improvements in their day-to-day operations though a federal Program Improvement Plan (PIP), which was developed after an examination of the safety, permanency, and well-being outcomes of child welfare cases.

 

The improvement process incurred a setback in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated a large portion of South Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. As a result, the PIP was renegotiated to reflect the state’s new priorities of recovery and renewal following the storm, and the deadline for completing the plan was extended by one year.

 

During the PIP period, DHS achieved its data goals by increasing timely reunification of children with their parents or adoption, increasing stability of foster care placements, and improving timeliness of initiating investigations of child maltreatment.

 

In a letter to Governor Barbour, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services commended the Division of Family and Children’s Services for its improvement efforts, saying that “despite the overwhelming administrative, fiscal, and personal impacts of the 2005 hurricanes, Mississippi’s staff exemplified dedication and commitment to improving the safety, permanency, and well-being for the State’s children and families.”

 

The state Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children’s Services submitted its final PIP report in March 2008.