TUPELO • County officials on Monday approved an agreement with the state’s court system to hire a social worker for youth court proceedings in seven counties. The position will be funded through a grant program.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors at its latest meeting unanimously voted to approve a Memorandum of Understating with the Mississippi Administrative Office of the Courts to hire the social worker, who will act as a parent representative. A parent representative is someone who provides legal representation for parents who cannot afford to hire a lawyer in abuse and neglect proceedings in youth court.

“The employee will work on a contract basis and act as a consultant,” Lee County Administrator Bill Benson said. “The board is agreeing to pay money and file for a reimbursement.”

The funds will come from a $35,000 grant from the Casey Family Programs Grant. The new position is a part of the North Mississippi Social Worker for Parent Representation Legal Team Project. The county will submit a monthly fiscal report to the state court system for monthly expenditures.

The social worker will serve Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tishomingo and Union counties, according to Beverly Kraft, the public information officer for the Administrative Office of the Courts.

“The most recent county to add parent representation was Prentiss County earlier this year,” Kraft said in a statement to the Daily Journal. “Last fall, boards of supervisors in Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Pontotoc, Tishomingo and Union counties agreed to pay half of the cost of parent representation in their counties for Youth Court, with the state paying the other half.”

The Memorandum of Understanding is set to expire at the end of the calendar year, but it may be renewed annually if grant funds are available.


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