Hope Haven to no longer house abused children

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Hope Haven will be closing its doors to abused and neglected children in South Mississippi.

The charity, which has helped more than 3,000 children since opening in 1995, will close its foster home in north Harrison County in the next 60 days. Hope Haven will still exist, but its mission will evolve into more of a support role for the foster care system.

Terry Latham, Executive Director of Hope Haven, told WLOX News that the charity's board voted on the change Tuesday night. The foster family currently living in the Hope Haven home was notified of the decision Sunday morning.

The shelter had once housed up to 12 kids at a time. But about seven years ago, the national organization Children's Rights Inc. filed a lawsuit against Mississippi and several other states. As part of a settlement, the Mississippi Department of Human Services agreed to a five year improvement plan which limits the number of children in each foster home to three.

"We're sad that this has come about, but we don't blame DHS. They have to abide by the law," Latham said. "We're excited to use the resources this will free up to provide more care and more services for children and families in our community."

The Hope Haven house currently has three children in its care. The group hopes to relocate the foster family to a different location.

Latham said the house in north Harrison County may be used in the future for transitional housing to help young people aging out of the foster care system. It may also be sold. The original Hope Haven building in Waveland will continue to operate as the charity's headquarters.

Latham said the charity's funds will be used to recruit more foster parents, help kids in need buy school clothes and other necessities, and to help kids aging out of the system.

In 2003, Hope Haven was named the best run small non-profit agency in the State by the Mississippi Business Journal.

Hancock County reporter Al Showers will have more on this story later today on WLOX News and WLOX.com.

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