Hancock County

Number of Hancock County children in foster care down by more than 100, judge says

By Cassandra Favre

The Sea Coast Echo

The Mississippi Department of Human Services' staff in Hancock County is split into two buildings, this one in Bay St. Louis and another in Kiln.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services' staff in Hancock County is split into two buildings, this one in Bay St. Louis and another in Kiln. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com file

On Jan. 1, there were about 389 children in foster care in Hancock County.

As of May 25, there are 259, Hancock County Court Judge Trent Favre said, with a “very, very minimal recurrence rate.”

Favre, who was appointed Hancock County Court Judge over the newly-created court system last December by Gov. Phil Bryant, took the oath of office on Feb. 2.

He has jurisdiction over county court and the youth court.

“We’re working the (youth court) cases five days a week,” he said. “We also have good working relations with the stakeholders: Child Protective Services (CPS), Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and the family attorney.”

Favre said it’s “our job to return kids safely to their home.”

“I’m the last person to make a decision on the return,” he said. “The prosecutor, guardian ad litem are all in agreement, and in most cases, CASA, the CPS worker and family attorney. Five people will say it’s time. It’s not some unilateral decision. The goal is to do it safely and make sure the parents and child are ready. And they’re always going to be people who mess up, we’re dealing with humans here.”

Favre said that three weeks ago, representatives from the state Supreme Court hosted training classes for youth court staff.

Since assuming office, Favre said, he’s added two new staff members: A clerk and staff attorney.

The clerk provides support for the prosecutor, sends out notices, and serves as intake for the delinquent youth services, Favre said.

“It was a long overdue position,” he said.

The bulk of the staff attorney’s attention is focused on assisting Favre with youth court, he said.

“As county court develops, that will need more attention,” he said.

Favre said he also had a chance to “restructure positions we already had and make sure people have the right duties in front of them.”

Favre said the staff received a good review from the state Supreme Court.

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