Fielder’s Choice

‘Open your heart, home’

I was blessed with parents who loved me.

My own children have had everything they need and lots more. But most of all, they too continue to experience the love of two caring parents.

But often we all get caught up in our own world. We don’t realize what is going on around us and the opportunities to help.

As of July 1, there were 5,243 children in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.

Marshall County’s number is high – 125.

Numbers from other nearby counties include Benton, seven; Lafayette, 25; DeSoto, 95; Tate, 27; and Union, 54.

The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services was created as the state’s lead child welfare agency by the 2016 Mississippi Legislature, separating it from the Mississippi Department of Human Services. In May 2016, Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2179 establishing MDCPS as an independent agency with its commissioner serving as a member of the Governor’s cabinet. An increase in state funding from the Mississippi Legislature has enabled MDCPS to begin enhancing its infrastructure and increasing the number of social workers employed to meet the needs of children and families across the state.

Samantha Crimm, with Child Protection Services, was the guest speaker at last week’s meeting of the Holly Springs Rotary Club.

Her focus was on a program called Rescue 100. This is a collaborative effort between Child Protection Services, the courts and churches of all denominations to work together to streamline the training and licensing of foster families.

“There’s a desperate need in the State of Mississippi,” Crimm said. “And we’re reaching out to communities like yours for assistance.”

Mississippi needs hundreds more foster families who can provide a safe, stable and loving home environment for these children.

The theme of Rescue 100 is – “Open your heart. Open your home.”

Through my many years of coaching youth baseball and basketball, I experienced children who didn’t have good family situations. Some never had a parent at a game. I picked them up for practice; I picked them up for games.

There was one particular child who my good friend and fellow coach pretty much cared for an entire summer.

And I know that youngster’s situation cannot compare with what these children in custody of Child Protection Services have faced.

Crimm emphasized “one family, one child” at a time.

Rescue 100 started in Gulfport in 2016 as a faith-based initiative by Pastor Tony Karnes of Michael Memorial Baptist Church in response to the need for 100 new foster families in his community. The success of the first Rescue 100 event then inspired leaders to expand the program statewide.

“We need your help,” Crimm said.

Child Protection Services representatives are available to meet and discuss ways your church can support foster parents in your congregation and community.

Send an e-mail to samantha.crimm@mdcps.ms.gov.  Or call her at 601-896-8677.

And there’s another big way you can help – pray.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
www.southreporter.com

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