Pictured from L-R: The Honorable Michael McPhail, Ramona Lockett, Josie Brown
Photo credit: Frank Brown

Forrest County Safe Babies Court Team, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Geographic/Demographic Reach: At this time, Forrest County has established a full court team. The infant-toddler court team is in the process of expanding to Rankin County (Region 6). Parent Partners are also placed in Stone, Lamar, Perry, Marion and Pearl River Counties. There are 176 children ages 0-5 in foster care in Region 6.

Court Team Members:

  • Forrest County Department of Human Services (DHS)
  • Forrest County Health Department
  • University of Southern Mississippi
  • Hattiesburg Public Schools
  • Hattiesburg Clinic
  • Early Head Start
  • First Steps
  • Mississippi Children’s Home Services
  • Excel By 5 (Hattiesburg and Petal)
  • Petal Center for Families and Children
  • Pine Belt Mental Health

Key Barriers to Address: There are limited resources for in-patient facilities for substance abuse. Additionally, there are limited foster homes in Forrest County (sometimes children are placed in other counties in the region).

Resources Available for Parents: Child-Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) services are available through Family Network Partnership. There are trained therapist on staff that work with the families and can submit a written report of the progress of the parents in courts as well as behavior of children and the progress that they are making as well. This also increases visitation and enhances parenting skills. Foster parents and social workers across Region 6 and throughout the state benefit from the training that the QIC-CT is providing.

Resources Available for Children: Child-Parent Psychotherapy; Early Head Start; Pediatric services; First Steps screening and evaluation.

Promising Practices: Early Head Start and the pediatrician work very closely with the families of children in foster care. These cases are prioritized. Pediatricians work with both the biological parents as well as the foster parents or relatives.

Desired Practice Change: Desired change would be to increase social workers’ knowledge and understanding about substance abuse, including recovery steps and relapse and infant mental health.Will continue working on the first placement being the last placement and getting children to permanency faster.

Public Events: September 2015: FASD Training in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with Dr. Larry Byrd; October 2015: Training on historical trauma in Hattiesburg, Mississippi with Dr. Marva Lewis.