TUPELO • The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi has confirmed that it is cooperating with auditors, even as a funding freeze has shuttered some of the local non-profit’s programming.
In a written statement released to the Daily Journal on Friday, Family Resource Center Executive Director Christi Webb addressed the implications of a decision by the Mississippi Department of Human Services not to release grant funds that were awarded to the Family Resource Center last December.
The Family Resource Center “is consolidating all operations to the Church Street facility, serving Lee County. Classes that are normally held in the 425 Magazine Street location and other regions will be moved to this facility,” according to the statement.
In recent years, the Family Resource Center has used grant funding to operate a network of centers and offices throughout the region, including DeSoto, Lafayette, Itawamba and Chickasaw counties.
A late January email obtained by the Daily Journal informed some staff that there would be no money to pay salaries.
On Thursday, DHS exclusively confirmed to the Daily Journal that it froze recent grants funds after the state Auditor’s Office raised concerns about how the Family Resource Center has spent public money previously given to it.
Specifically, a DHS spokesperson said the auditor highlighted “potential spending” of grant money “on unallowable costs during prior subgrant agreements which could result in serious findings.”
Webb confirmed ongoing discussions with the auditor, but did not provide details.
“The FRC is fully cooperating with the State Auditor’s office in answering any questions about funding from MDHS and understands the need to hold all funding until the audit of MDHS is complete,” Webb said in the statement.
She also said the Family Resource Center “has not received any notification from DHS concerning audit findings.”
Other programs at the Family Resource Center remain active, including the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Located in Tupelo, the Family Resource Center was one of two private nonprofits chosen as contractors by DHS to manage the statewide Families First for Mississippi initiative and operate its programming.
The Family Resource Center managed the northern 42 counties, while the Mississippi Community Education Center managed the central and southern regions of the state.
The freeze on the Family Resource Center grant comes even as Auditor Shad White last week unveiled embezzlement and fraud charges against MCEC leadership and against former DHS Director John Davis.
The auditor claims Davis worked with Nancy New of MCEC and others to fraudulently divert money to former wrestler Brett DiBiase and others.
This alleged scheme involved fake invoices, addiction recovery classes that never occurred and deceptive accounting practices, according to the auditor.
In her statement, Webb emphasized that the Family Resource Center operated independently of MCEC, even as both received money linked to the Families First initiative. This included distinct administration and distinct boards of directors.
The statement also said the Family Resource Center “is deeply saddened about the recent Mississippi State Auditor’s discovery of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds received from MDHS by the MCEC organization in the Jackson, MS, region.”