Family Advocacy Program needs help to help those in need

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, October 19, 2022

A program operating in Picayune under the umbrella of Manna Ministries has been working to ensure families stay together in times of need.

The Family Advocacy Program at Manna Ministries provides ways for families to ensure are not separated due to unnoticed neglect or other reasons.

Coordinator Meghan Finley said the program has been helping the community since the fall of 2020, and works to ensure children are not taken from their parent’s or guardian’s home due to financial burdens or neglect.

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Finley said many families that are deemed to be neglecting their children are unaware they are doing so because the parents grew up in similar situations. To ensure Child Protective Services does not decide to relocate children in these environments, the Family Advocacy Program connects the parents and guardians with resources, such as beds, help with utilities, clothing and food. They take these efforts because the best place for a child is with their family. Parenting classes are also offered.

Over the past two years, Finley said the program has been able to help 265 children and more than 100 families. Finley said the program has a 68 percent success rate. Of those cases that are not successful, 76 percent involve an adult who may have a mental health issue.

A majority of the families Finley helps are headed by single parents. She has also noticed a growing number of grandparents serving as a child’s guardian.

If a child is placed in foster care for whatever reason, and the foster home is short on bed space, Finley said she can help them find bedding, clothes and other items for the children. Many of those items come from donations made to Twice as Nice, a thrift store operated by Manna Ministries. If a certain item is not in stock at the store, Finley will purchase it with funding on hand. Any sales at Twice as Nice help fund the various programs Manna Ministries offers to the community.

If anyone has items they would like to donate to assist the Family Advocacy Center, they can bring them to Twice as Nice, located at 120 Street A in Picayune’s Industrial Park. Monetary donations are also accepted.

To contact the Family Advocacy Program, call 601-799-2121.