From crisis to self-sufficiency: New MDHS director has new goal for agency

From crisis to self-sufficiency: New MDHS director has new goal for agency

As we prepare for 2020, the Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS) is committed to helping children and families transition from a state of crisis to a state of self-sufficiency.

Our ability to accomplish this mission largely depends on three things:

  1. Leadership
  2. Partnership
  3. Stewardship


In his book, The Speed of Trust, Stephen M. R. Covey writes, “Leadership is achieving results in a way that inspires trust.” Because MDHS has such a significant impact on thousands of people’s lives, we work daily to deliver results (i.e., resources) in a way that builds trust among our clients, our employees, and the public. 

Successfully delivering resources has a direct correlation to the customer service experience. While we have room for improvement, one of my personal goals as a leader at MDHS is to ensure everyone receives the help they need through a positive customer service experience.


Andrew Carnegie said, “Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision.” We see our mission at MDHS as singularly focused on making a positive difference in a child or family’s life. 

Success, however, requires us to engage, communicate, and collaborate with other state agencies, such as the Departments of Child Protection Services, Health, Mental Health, Rehab Services, the Mississippi Development Authority, Community Colleges, and Medicaid, to name a few, as well as our federal partners and the many statewide non-profits. 

In addition, we are seeking to build relationships within the faith-based community, the recovery community, and the juvenile justice community. An individual’s crisis can happen at any point in his or her life. If our vision is to help people transition from a state of crisis, whenever and however that happens, then our ability to have long lasting success lies in building a strong team of partners.


MDHS often helps families when poverty becomes overwhelming. Typically, basic needs include adequate food and shelter. MDHS assists eligible families through limited emergency assistance programs like Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

While every budget would benefit from an increase, MDHS is often able to match many of our state dollars against federal dollars. Doing so allows us to help more people in a meaningful way. We seek to uphold the truth: “To whom much has been given, much will be required” (Luke 12:48 NRSV).

Our promise is to use the taxpayers’ funds effectively and efficiently. We know we will be held accountable. In turn, we will hold our agency, our employees, and our partners accountable for how funds are spent.

Workforce training, early child care key parts of MDHS strategy

Our strategy focuses on our ability to demonstrate leadership, strengthen partnerships, and exhibit sound stewardship. Each of our divisions — Aging and Adult Services; Early Childhood Care and Development; Community Services; Economic Assistance; Child Support; Workforce Development; and Youth Services — utilizes these three principles in stabilizing a family in crisis. 

To achieve stabilization and long-term success, we are building a framework centered around an intensive case management system which assesses each family’s needs, assists the family in acquiring the necessary resources, and creates a consolidated custom approach to alleviating those needs.  

MDHS’s framework focuses on such fundamentals as:

  1. training for workforce preaparation;
  2. technical skills for workforce development;
  3. connections for workforce placement;
  4. transportation to work; and quality early child care for parents needing to work and children needing a head-start in education.

Additionally, the framework is supported by programs that improve parenting skills, life skills, and workplace soft skills as well as programs that assist fathers with engaging in meaningful ways with their children.

An eye toward traumatic events shapes how we serve Mississippi

Everything we do at MDHS includes a trauma-informed approach to how we serve our clients. Many struggles stem from multi-generational poverty, abuse, incarceration, domestic violence, and substance use disorder. 

Consequently, these traumatic events have a direct correlation to events such as workplace violence, school violence, and the opioid epidemic. Each of these physical responses is a direct result of the emotional pain too many of our children and families face due to multi-generational struggles; providing hope through addressing fundamental human needs will serve as a catalyst to reduce violence and increase access to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

MDHS is committed to working with our partners, being good stewards of our resources, and demonstrating leadership in the community as we help the most vulnerable in our society live healthy, fulfilling, and purposeful lives. What we do best is captured in our name; we are the Department of Human Services.