Families First for Mississippi’s (FFFM) Fulton resource center is still hanging on despite looming uncertainty about the organization’s future amid an ongoing investigation into its parent organization, Family Resource Center (FRC) of North Mississippi, for improperly using grant money.
Buddy Collins, Regional Coordinator with FFFM, said he is learning about the latest in the investigation by State Auditor Shad White’s Office as it’s released.
“We are getting information just like everyone else is,” Collins said. “We haven’t heard anything and are just trying to conduct business through this and the pandemic as we were.”
FFFM opened its Fulton office in early 2018. The nonprofit offers programs aimed at helping a mix of people, including classes on improving effective parenting, healthy relationships, conflict resolution, life skills communication, responsible fatherhood, and preventing domestic violence.
Federal grant funds awarded to the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi last December will remain “indefinitely suspended” by the Mississippi Department of Human Services, according to a recent Daily Journal article.
MDHS froze the money after the Office of State Auditor Shad White raised concerns related to a then-ongoing audit.
The audit results released last week raised concerns about how some nonprofits have spent federal money for the needy directed to them by MDHS. Serious questions were raised about the Mississippi Community Education Center based in central Mississippi, and at least some questions were raised about FRC in Tupelo, according to reports.
Throughout the investigation and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which coincided with it, Collins said he has been checking phone messages and reaching out to the clients who take part in these programs. It’s not exactly business as usual, but it’s as close as the organization can manage, all things considered.
“The programs are a good thing and we’ve helped a lot of people,” Collins said. “We are just trying to carry on as best we can until we’re told differently.”