PACT Members Encouraged By Funding For DHS - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/07/03

PACT Members Encouraged By Funding For DHS

The people who've been pushing for help for helpless children in Harrison County say they're encouraged that state lawmakers are making a new commitment to abused and neglected children.

"They know that it's important, they know that it's in their park, the ball is in your park, you've got to do something and I think they've taken us up on that and they're gonna be willing to do what must be done," says PACT Member Freida Kaletsch.

In Harrison County, just eight social workers investigate thousands of abuse and neglect cases, plus supervise children in foster care. The PACT members who work closely with Department of Human Services say children are falling through the cracks.

"I think the ones that are there have done certainly a fantastic job and they're trying very hard to see to it that children are seen but I believe it's on a high priority case level," Beth Casey said.

The promise of more than a million dollars statewide will allow DHS to ease severe understaffing and give attention to all at risk children. Getting the money is the biggest hurdle. But once it's in place there's another problem, where are all the new social workers going to come from. In Harrison County alone, they need to hire 15 more.

"They're gonna be graduates getting out in May hopefully with bachelor or masters degree in social work and hopefully they'll be wanting to come to the Department of Human Services," Kaletsch said.

"DHS is gonna have a hard road finding the social workers to fill these positions because we're looking at a lot of positions to fill but we are very encouraged by it. If we can fill these positions I think the children in our county and the state will have the services that is needed by them," PACT Member Cindy Alexander said.

Services that PACT says have been deprived from the children who need them most.

By:Marcia Hill

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