Child Advocacy Group Questions DHS About New Hires

You could hear the frustration in the voices of Harrison County's child advocacy group. Professionals Advocating Children Together -- or PACT -- told two DHS representatives that the county wasn't getting what it felt like it was promised on May 30th.

According to Beth Casey, Governor Musgrove "said that that one million dollars will be allocated to Harrison and DeSoto." The governor made that announcement in May. He said the money would help hire social workers here at Harrison County's depleted family and children's services department.

PACT members said they were specifically told the money would pay for 11 new case workers. "If that was what you were told," DHS representative Thelma Britton said, "we will work on seeing that it's done."

The DHS agents admitted they were under the impression Harrison County would get just six more case workers.

PACT formed in February when child abuse and child neglect became a Harrison County crisis. It feared children would die because the family and children's services division had just five case workers, when it was supposed to have 22.

Freida Kaletsch is a founding member of PACT. She knows it will take time to build the children's services staff back up to acceptable levels. But, she said, "I don't know that the children that we're supposed to be serving really have that time. So we are really very concerned."

That's why PACT will keep meeting. It's mission is to fight for children's safety until DHS can fully staff its Harrison County office.

DHS director Janice Broome Brooks was supposed to be at Tuesday's lunch meeting. But she had to stay in Jackson for another meeting.