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New foster care director details system changes

By: Anne Parker (Original Post)

Dr. David ChandlerJACKSON, Miss. —
The new director of Mississippi’s foster care program says it’s a new day for the department.

Dr. David Chandler unveiled his plans Thursday during a conference in Jackson. Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Chandler to be the new director of the Division of Family and Children’s Services in December. Chandler left the Mississippi Supreme Court to take the position.

“What is more important? Signing off on a legal issue or saving a child’s life? There’s no question,” Chandler said.

Chandler said the state needs to hire more than 200 additional social workers and raise salaries, which he said will carry a $34.5 million price tag for the Legislature. 

“We must make sure every child has a safe place to live, sufficient food to eat, proper clothing and care,” Chandler said.

Conference leaders said changes are needed.

“Since Chandler is from the state of Mississippi, he is in a better position to really identify our needs and look at the areas we need to improve in and make sure our children are taken care of and moved through the foster care system,” Mississippi Child Welfare Conference Chairman Dr. Theresa Ratliff said.

Chandler faces a May 15 deadline to complete an overhaul of the system or face federal takeover.

“The judge will ask us what we have gotten done, and he will review it, and he will make the ruling,” Chandler said. “I’m very optimistic that we will avoid any adverse ruling May 15.”

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