Thursday, May 31, 2012
More space needed
By SUE WATSON
Minnie Hoey, area social work supervisor of Family and Children’s Services, and Terry Phillips, director of Region 1 North, met with the Marshall County Board of Supervisors recently to ask for better office space.
They say their present facility is not in compliance with the courts and their staff is growing. They asked supervisors for more room to conduct their business with clients in a privacy setting in a building that also meets office space requirements.
Marshall County has one supervisor, seven front-line workers and is one of the fastest-growing agencies, Hoey said. One more supervisor and three more workers are to be added and more office space will be needed, she said.
Family and Children’s Services, which handles adoptions, foster parenting, and child abuse, shares the facility with DHS in Holly Springs. There is need for security for document storage, as well.
Supervisor Charles Terry said he had made a walk-through of the facility and could see the needs of the division for adequate office space and meeting space for staff with clients.
Hoey offered to give all supervisors a tour of the facility.
“We’re in desperate need to do something,” she said. “The present area has served its purpose.”
The state was mandated by a lawsuit to meet certain criteria for the agency, Hoey said. Three counties are under orders to improve or provide adequate space, Phillips said. He said there are limits on what the state will reimburse a county for in providing space. One county is remodeling a building, another is leasing a building and the state is reimbursing the county, he said.
He said FCS is looking to hire a clerk, a person to handle adoptions and one to handle foster care homes.
County administrator Larry Hall acknowledged his staff has been working on a solution, which could include modification of existing space and dividing some spaces to make more offices. He asked for a punch list of what the agency requires before drawing up a plan to solve the problem.
Terry asked what happens if the county does not meet the standards.
Phillips said his agency would be in contempt of court and the state agency could be put on receivership. Three of seven counties in his region are out of compliance and one county has worked out a plan, he said.
Hall asked if it is mandatory the county provide space. Phillips said he understands it is. He agreed to provide a punch list of requirements and specifications to the board of supervisors.
The agency is important to the county because of the needs for family services and also from an economic standpoint by providing for family needs and providing jobs for the area, Hall said.
The state lost a lawsuit (Olivia vs. Barbour) against the division of Family and Children’s Services in Mississippi. The court ordered remedies following this lawsuit.
DHS in Marshall County has four divisions: Economic Assistance (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - food stamps, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families - TANF and TANF work program - TWP); Child Support (establishes parent and provides support for children); Family and Children’s Services; and Aged and Adult Services (advocate in cases of adult neglect, adult abuse or vulnerable adult and disabled cases).
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