DHS Needs Millions More To Protect Local Children

The Department of Human Services' top boss said her agency needs 19 million dollars if it's going to properly protect Harrison County children.

Wednesday, Janice Broome-Brooks visited her understaffed Gulfport office, and told workers that DHS is spending every penny it can to help them investigate child abuse cases. But she didn't say whether the state agency would fill any of the 16 vacancies at the Harrison County office.

"To help address the critical need in Harrison County, we've had individuals come from other counties to provide support and relief to the enormous situation we have here," said Broome-Brooks.

Harrison County's division of family and children's services has only six employees. It's supposed to have 22. As a result, employees aren't able to get to hundreds of child abuse and child neglect cases.

The DHS staffing situation may become national news. ABC News has contacted members of PACT, or "professionals advocating for children together."

The group is made up of youth court employees, and mental health experts around Harrison County. The professionals are looking for ways they can help DHS protect coast children.

PACT first met in February. Since then, members have contacted lawmakers, and testified at the state capitol in an effort to end Harrison County's child abuse crisis.