Biloxi Man Suing DHS To "Protect Mississippi Children" - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/01/02

Biloxi Man Suing DHS To "Protect Mississippi Children"

A Biloxi man who has had no personal experience at all with the Department of Human Services says Mississippi's children are suffering because DHS is not doing its job. So Randy McDonnell is suing the agency and the state.

Randy McDonnell's suit he asks nothing for himself. Instead, he accuses the Department of Humane Services of not properly running its child support enforcement program.

The DHS serves about 350,000 children. In the year 2000, 265,000 cases were open. More than 123,000 cases showed that child support payments were behind. Those payments add up to millions of dollars due both to the state and to the children who need help.

Randy McDonnell's attorney hopes his lawsuit will encourage a court to force the Department of Human Resources to do its job - protecting Mississippi's children.

"If we simply apply the law, we will collect money for attorney fees and court costs, we will get children more money, we will get them the correct amount of money, the state will be reimbursed, the federal government will be reimbursed, and the people that owe the money will pay it, " Attorney Tom Teel said.

Gulfport attorney Kelly Rayburn worked as a DHS staff attorney for six years. He says the agency has historically been understaffed and under funded.

"In order to protect these children and provide sufficient support for these kids, and also reimburse the state for money it has extended for public assistance recipients, they need the tools to do it. They need the funding and they need the staffing and it's high time someone filed a lawsuit like this, and I'm very glad they did," Rayburn said.

The attorneys say DHS is not broken beyond repair and can be fixed by simply enforcing the laws.

The lawsuit is filed in Harrison County Chancery Court in Biloxi. No hearing date is set.

We did call the Department of Human Services. A spokesperson told us they haven't seen the suit and wouldn't comment.

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