Director: Mississippi foster care has budget shortfall

MGN Online

The director of Mississippi's Department of Child Protection Services said Tuesday that the agency is about $44 million short of what it needs for the final five months of the budget year.

Posted: Jan 25, 2018 6:25 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The director of Mississippi's Department of Child Protection Services said Tuesday that the agency is about $44 million short of what it needs for the final five months of the budget year.

But he told lawmakers that they can solve the agency's budget shortfall by spending only about $12 million. The director, Jess Dickinson, said the $12 million can be routed through the Department of Human Services, which could then use it to receive additional federal money.

"This is a pathway out," Dickinson told members of the House Appropriations Committee.

Child Protection Services has been splitting away from Human Services in recent years as state officials have tried to put more time, money and effort into solving foster care problems after the state was sued. The split into separate agencies is supposed to be complete by this summer.

Budget problems arose because Child Protection Services has less access to federal money, said Dickinson, a former Supreme Court justice who became director in September.

He said Child Protection Services was facing a $52 million shortfall for the current budget year, which ends June 30. That figure was reduced to $49 million by canceling some contracts and cutting back to what Dickinson called the agency's core responsibilities. He said he will save another $5 million by not filling some vacant jobs the next five months and by delaying work on an update for a computer system. That would bring the shortfall to the $44 million he mentioned.

Legislators will consider bills that would keep a connection between the Department of Human Services and Child Protection Services, largely with the goal of helping head off budget problems. One is House Bill 1171 . Another is Senate Bill 2075 .

The House bill attempts to solve a specific problem Dickinson mentioned Tuesday. Under current law, the state Supreme Court chief justice may appoint a special judge to temporarily serve in circuit court or chancery court. The bill would allow the chief justice to temporarily serve in county court. Dickinson said that would help reduce the backlog of county court cases dealing with termination of parental rights for the birth parents of children in foster care and awaiting adoption. He said coastal Harrison County has a long list of such cases.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36680

Reported Deaths: 1250
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds304154
DeSoto200920
Madison150839
Jones123149
Harrison118316
Rankin113719
Neshoba104577
Forrest104343
Lauderdale97281
Scott83115
Jackson80419
Washington75313
Copiah67516
Leake63520
Lee63022
Grenada6259
Oktibbeha62328
Warren60021
Holmes59841
Lamar5847
Wayne56819
Yazoo5667
Lowndes54917
Leflore53956
Lincoln53835
Pike51120
Lafayette5094
Sunflower5058
Panola4616
Monroe46036
Simpson4533
Covington4505
Bolivar41618
Tate39513
Attala38624
Newton37710
Adams36720
Pontotoc3636
Marion34912
Claiborne31511
Pearl River30832
Chickasaw30219
Winston30211
Marshall2973
Jasper2826
Noxubee2799
Walthall2748
Clay26211
Smith25612
Union25612
Coahoma2356
Clarke22825
Lawrence2162
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1974
Montgomery1863
Kemper18414
Carroll18311
Humphreys17410
Calhoun1705
Hancock15213
Itawamba1478
Tippah14711
Jefferson1373
Webster13511
Prentiss1274
Tunica1263
George1253
Jefferson Davis1254
Greene11610
Alcorn1112
Amite1113
Tishomingo1091
Quitman1011
Wilkinson1019
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin572
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 56441

Reported Deaths: 1136
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
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