Dec. 15 hearing set concerning DHS

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

Scott County.

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,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)