Child welfare may be spun off

Mississippi may consider making its child welfare unit a separate agency, in the latest effort to resolve a longstanding lawsuit over conditions in the state’s foster care system.

In an order signed Thursday by U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee, the state agreed to hire consultants who will recommend changes to the system, including whether the child welfare unit should become a separate agency from the state Department of Human Services.

The order says a special legislative session might be needed to create a new agency.

Gov. Phil Bryant’s spokeswoman, Nicole Webb, said Bryant will call a special session if children’s welfare is in imminent danger. But if consultants release their recommendations late this year, the issues might be discussed during the regular legislative session that begins in January, she said.

Clarion Ledger