By whom is Hope Village licensed?

The MS Department of Human Services, the MS Department of Mental Health, and the Department of Health.

How many children do you serve and what are their ages?

Each day, we provide services to approximately forty-four (44) children.  In 2006, Hope Village provided over 10,000 nights of service to almost 200 children in need.  We serve children from birth to age eighteen (18).

Why are children placed in the care of Hope Village?

Neglect, abuse, and abandonment are common reasons.  Our facility is recognized by the Department of Human Services social workers as a model program.  Unfortunately, we are often forced to refuse referrals because we are at maximum capacity.  We hope to open an additional cottage soon so that we may accomodate more referrals.

What races and genders do you serve?

Hope Village accepts all children in need, regardless of race or gender. Our statistics show that each year we serve an equal number of males and females and an equal number of minority and Caucasian children.

Where do the children go to school?

Preschool children are provided with educational services at Weems Mental Health.  School-aged children attend local public schools.  When special needs arise, our residents are allowed to attend accredited classes at a private mental health facility.  After school, all of our children are provided with tutoring services on the Hope Village campus.

How much does it cost to care for the children?

$132 per day.  The Mississippi Department of Mental Health requires one (1) staff person for every five (5) children and a minimum of two (2) direct care workers in a cottage at all times when there are children present.  Hope Village is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Many of our children have special needs and require one-on-one therapeutic attention.  For this reason, our staff includes many professionals with specialized college degrees and paraprofessionals who are trained to deal with traumatized children.  Licensing requirements also include continuous, specialized training throughout the year.

Why don’t the children live with foster families?

Almost all of the children in our residential group homes have lived in one or more foster placements.  Some have been moved twenty or more times in their short life.  These children do not have the skills to be successful in a traditional family setting.  Our goal is to provide superior services so that each child may develop the skills necessary for a successful foster home placement.  Unfortunately, the reality is that many of our children will only know stability by living in a group home setting.

Who are the children served by Hope Village?

They are children who have been deemed in need of supervision by the MS Department of Human Services.

Is Hope Village for Children a state agency?

No, we are a private non-profit agency.

Do the kids ever come back?

Often foster homes or relative placements do not work out. When that happens, we request that children return to the familiar surroundings of Hope Village.

How are you funded?

Hope Village is very dependent on the generosity of individual donations. We do, however, receive funding through grants from the MS Dept. of Human Services, MS Dept. of Mental Health, MS Dept. of Public Safety and the United Way of Lauderdale County. Funds are also raised through the Hope Village Thrift Store, located in downtown Meridian.

What do they do for fun?

Hope Village has a staff person that plans recreational activities for the children. We encourage our children to get involved in sports teams, social clubs, and extracurricular enrichment activities at school.  Our kids are involved in everything from the swim team to ROTC.  They are also involved in a variety of activities in the community, and are given the opportunity to experience many of the fun things our community has to offer, from going to the movies to attending performances at the Riley Center.  On campus, we have a playground, art projects, an on-site recreation gym, and many other activities designated for the children’s recreational use.

Do the kids have their own money?

Each child above the age of 5 is given a weekly allowance.  We also encourage all of our residents over the age of 16 to be independently employed, and we provide abundant support to ensure that they secure and maintain stable jobs.

Can the kids be adopted?

When the Judge has ordered a parent’s rights be terminated, their children are eligible for adoption. If someone is interested in adopting one of the children at Hope Village, they must contact the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

How long do they stay at Hope Village?

This again depends on the plan. On rare occasions, a child may stay one night. Since foster and adoptive homes are limited, many of our children will be here for years.  The average length of stay for a child in our residential group home is 292 days (9.6 months), while for the emergency shelter it is 45 days.

Can they have friends over to visit?

Because of confidentiality requirements, visits are limited but are possible.

Where do they go when they leave?

This also depends on the permanency plan. Some of our children will remain with us until adulthood, others will enter foster care, go to relatives or return home.

Do they get to see their families?

This depends on the permanency plan developed for them by the Department of Human Services and the Court System. If reunification is the plan, visitation is encouraged.

Do the kids get to leave on the weekends?

All of our children are in the custody of the state of Mississippi. Guidelines must be followed that restrict their ability to move about the community freely. However, visits are scheduled with their families when the intention is for the children to return home.

Is Sela Ward actively involved?

Sela Ward is an active member of Hope Village’s Board of Directors and was the catalyst that allowed this dream to become a reality.

What makes Hope Village different?

One of the fears children face when they enter the system is not knowing where they will be placed. This fear is intensified when the first placement does not work out and they are continually moved. Another fear is that they will be separated from their siblings. This fear is often realized and compounds the trauma of being removed from their home. Hope Village strives to stop the movement of children by providing all services on one campus. We also try to ensure sibling groups are not separated by serving a very diverse population, not only in age but also in needs.