TUPELO • The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi has received a $2.7 million grant to improve child safety and well-being by engaging at-risk families.

The five-year grant comes from the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and will focus on engaging at-risk families in Lee County and connecting them with community-based primary prevention programs. The effort will involve collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services and a network of community partners.

“This project will allow us to amplify our efforts and make a significant impact to improve the lives of many families,” said Christi Webb, executive director of the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi.

Being able to refer to Family Resource Center so families can receive in home services is an effective intervention, said Jess Dickinson, commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Child Protective Services.

“Oftentimes, we can avoid removing a child from their home because we are able to work in partnership to address and resolve issues that threaten a family’s stability before problems worsen,” Dickinson said. “Knowing that a community has these resources available for our workers to utilize strengthens the family-building work we do every day – and underpins our Safe at Home mission.”

The project team will start with a 10-month community assessment and planning period and then begin to work directly with families and children. The team will focus on connecting families with necessary services, resources, training and skills development activities designed to improve family stability and reduce the likelihood of involvement with the state’s child welfare system.

The project will be evaluated by The Stephen Group, a New Hampshire-based consulting firm that has worked extensively with Mississippi health and human service providers and the state’s child welfare system.

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