JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - State lawmakers will hold a Dec. 15
hearing to learn more about the Mississippi Department of Health
and Human Services, its workloads and staffing.
The hearing is prompted, in part, by four suspected abuse deaths
in the last six months, including the starvation of a 4-year-old in
In that case, Austin James Watkins had been monitored by the
state before going to live with his grandmother, Janice Mowdy, and
aunt, Stephanie Bell. Both are jailed in the killing.
In another case, Pike County authorities suspect starvation
contributed to the death of a 2-year-old whose home had been
visited by a DHS caseworker weeks before he died.
A lawsuit over foster care issues forced Mississippi to begin
making changes last year.
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger,