HANCOCK COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - A report released reviewing our state’s Department of Child Protective Services is showing a somewhat bleak situation.
The annual legislative committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review revealing that the department has 487 positions vacant, that’s nearly 25 percent, and that it never met its court ordered mandate for front line caseworkers. The review also revealed that the turnover rate for caseworkers was up almost 10 percent from last year.
The Hancock County CASA isn’t seeing the issue. Cynthia Chauvin has worked for CASA for more than 18 years and is now the executive director for the Hancock County agency. She is also well aware of the difficulties of the job.
“This is a social problem that is not going to go away today or tomorrow," said Chauvin. "And it takes the community’s effort to really make a difference with it.”
That’s something Chauvin believes is happening in Hancock County. The county once had 470 children needing foster assistance but that number is now down to 117.
“I’ll tell you, there is really something special about living in Hancock County and living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast," said Chauvin. "People without doubt are willing to step up and make sure that kids have a good Christmas season despite being away from, many of them, away from their parents Christmas morning.”
That’s why CASA employees and advocates are working hard to make sure every child has something to unwrap on Christmas morning.
“I think part of the joy of this experience of wrapping the gift and getting ready for our party and to give out to the kids, is seeing the generosity from the people in our community,” said CASA volunteer Margaret Adam.
Adam has five years of experience at CASA and loves wrapping presents each year because she knows how much it will mean to the kids. While the children will undoubtedly enjoy their gifts, the greatest gift for those helping them is much greater.
“I tell you the greatest gift to me is when a child has achieved permanency and that their name is not going to be on our hallway. That they are either going to be back home with their parents or they are going to be in a safe, loving, stable home where they have achieved permanency and where they no longer require our assistance," said Chauvin. "I think that is the greatest gift of all this Christmas for us.”
Every one of the 117 kids will receive a Christmas present this year thanks to community donations.