Special Efforts Being Made in Mississippi to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

In 2016, Mississippi enacted HB 2179, to create a new Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (MDCPS), a cabinet-level agency. MDCPS was formerly operating as the Division of Family & Children’s Services under the Mississippi Department of Human Services, but underwent a restructuring as part of the settlement resulting from the Olivia Y. lawsuit.  [Recommendation 5.1]

In 2016, Mississippi enacted HB 1240, which adds having committed an abusive act for which reasonable efforts to maintain the children in the home would not be required, or a series of physically, mentally, or emotionally abusive incidents against the child or another child to the grounds for termination of parental rights. It also clarifies that if the court does not decide to terminate the parent's parental rights, the court may grant custody to the parent whose rights were sought to be terminated if that is in the best interest of the child. Furthermore, it provides that if the court determines that the alleged father is the child’s natural father and that he objects to the child’s adoption, the court shall stay the adoption proceedings to allow the filing of a petition to determine whether the father’s parental rights should be terminated.  [Recommendation 5.3]