On May 9, 2018 in a packed room decorated with wild flowers and handmade quilts, Jackson County Youth Court, CASA and CPS celebrated the reunification of six families at their first Reunification Day Celebration! These Families had struggled with life and found themselves involved with the child protection system.
That night in Pascagoula, Mississippi was a celebration of these families hard work to be reunified with their children. Mothers and Fathers who picked themselves up after a fall and learned to manage their issues so that their children could come home. With pride, we celebrated their success.
Commissioner of CPS, Jesse Dickinson spoke at the celebration about the hard work the parents had put in to make their children's lives better AT HOME! The place where all children want to be!
After an opening prayer from Jurist in Resident, John Hudson, the guest enjoyed a buffet prepared by the Youth Court Staff and CASA. Entertainment was in the forms of singing, signing and dancing by children of the Youth Court Staff. Judge Sharon Sigalas, Permanency Coordinator Katy Frazier and CASA Director Frances Allsup all congratulated these families and their children for the hard work to get to Reunification.
Gifts of a handmade quilt were given to each child and each family received a handmade bird feeder to remind them of this special night. At the end of this beautiful celebration a room full of advocates went home dreaming about a bigger and better celebration next year!
Forrest County Community Leader Josie Brown was Honored By Mississippi Bar Child Welfare Committee as part of Reunification Month. She was selected by the Child Welfare and Child Advocacy Committee of The Mississippi Bar as a Statewide Reunification Champion.
Mrs. Brown has more than 38 years of experience in child welfare, health care, and the juvenile court system. She is a licensed social worker with 14 years professional experience, in which she has exhibited strong leadership skills including support to vulnerable and at-risk parents and their families, training and technical assistance to social workers, and collaborative relationship-building with members of the Forrest County Safe Babies Court Team.
Brown works closely with Excel By 5, the Mississippi Court Improvement Program, the Forrest County Youth Court, the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services and many state and local stakeholders to ensure needs are being met for those children in foster care aged 0-3 and their families as they work through the reunification process, and alternatively, other permanency outcomes when reunification is not possible.
For the first time, Mississippi is included among several states recognized by the American Bar Association’s Center on Children and the Law for their efforts to showcase the efforts of individuals dedicated to assisting and supporting vulnerable families navigate the child welfare system and reunite their families.
For information on the Child Welfare & Child Advocacy Committee of The Mississippi Bar please visit http://www.msbar.org/inside-the-bar/committees/child-welfare-and-child-advocacy.aspx.
The Child Welfare & Child Advocacy Committee will honor judges, attorneys, social workers, community partners, parents, youth, and child welfare professionals who have been nominated by members of the Mississippi Bar and selected by the committee who have made heroic family reunification efforts. They will receive special recognition and have their stories published in celebration of National Reunification Month in June.
The stories will celebrate these individuals as well as bring positive attention to the successes of child welfare, promote quality practices and lead to constructive discussions about systemic needs.