MDCPS Commissioner Chandler confirmed by MS Senate
JACKSON —The Mississippi Senate confirmed former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice David A. Chandler on Wednesday as Commissioner of the newly established Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.
Chandler’s official confirmation to the position he has held since being appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant in December 2015 was unanimously recommended Tuesday, March 28, by the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.
“This process provided me an opportunity to share with the Senate committee during the confirmation hearing how appreciative I am for their interest and attention to the efforts of all of us who are employed at Child Protection Services in promoting the proper care for our children,” Chandler said Wednesday.
“It was also a time which enable me to share with them what I consider to be the greatest challenges we are facing and my general plans for meeting those challenges.”
Chandler resigned from the state high court in December 2015 to accept the appointment to oversee federally mandated reform of Mississippi’s child welfare and foster care system. Chandler first was named executive director of the Division of Family and Children’s Services, a cabinet-level position reporting directly to the governor. Chandler’s position was then appointed as MDCPS Commissioner in July 2016 when the Mississippi Legislature authorized creation of the stand-alone agency. In May 2016, Bryant signed Senate Bill 2179 separating it from the Mississippi Department of Human Services and establishing MDCPS as an independent agency and dramatically increasing its budget. The change enabled MDCPS to begin enhancing its organizational infrastructure and increasing the number of social workers employed to meet the needs of children and families across the state.
Chandler’s appointment to the cabinet-level position and the creation of the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services are both part of a federal court-ordered mandate to resolve lingering issues with Mississippi’s foster care system. In 2004, the Olivia Y foster care lawsuit was filed claiming that the state of Mississippi had failed to adequately protect children in the custody of its child welfare system. In December 2016 a new settlement agreement in the decade-old lawsuit was approved by the U.S. District Court establishing clear, obtainable objectives in reforming the state’s child welfare system. MDCPS was given a 12-month window in which to build capacity to delivery mandated improvements in foster care services.
“This agreement clears the way going forward for Mississippi to ensure the safety of all our children,” Chandler said. “Our agency is working diligently to protect Mississippi’s children and nurture families by providing effective and efficient delivery of services statewide.”
Chandler was elected to an eight-year term on the state’s high court in 2008 but resigned the elected position to assume the MDCPS role. A Kosciusko native, Chandler was reared in Weir. He earned his bachelor’s masters and doctoral degrees in education from Mississippi State University, a J.D. law degree from the University of Mississippi and a master of law in judicial process from the University of Virginia.
For almost 10 years, Chandler worked in Choctaw County public schools before becoming a research and curriculum specialist at MSU where he developed secondary and post-secondary workforce training programs.
After law school, Chandler practiced law in Tupelo and Choctaw County, where he served as attorney for the board of supervisors. He was municipal judge in Weir from 1999 until he was elected to the Court of Appeals where he served for eight years before being elected to the state Supreme Court in 2008. He and his wife Glenda are residents of Louisville.
Posted March 31, 2017 - 7:49 am