Determining the Best Interests of the Child - Mississippi

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Ann. Code § 43-21-103; DFCS Policy Man., Section D(I)(A) 

This chapter shall be liberally construed to the end that each child coming within the jurisdiction of the youth court shall become a responsible, accountable, and productive citizen, and that each such child shall receive such care, guidance, and control, preferably in such child's own home, as is conducive toward that end and is in the State's and the child's best interests. It is the public policy of this State that the parents of each child shall be primarily responsible for the care, support, education, and welfare of such children; however, when it is necessary that a child be removed from the control of such child's parents, the youth court shall secure proper care for such child.

In policyThe primary objective and goal of family-centered practice, as offered by the Division of Family and Children's Services, is to protect and serve the best interests of the child by strengthening and preserving families so children can live safely at home with their parents or relatives.

Best Interests Factors

Citation: DFCS Policy Man., Section D(V)(F)

Many factors must be considered in the selection of the prospective resource home for the child. The agency should use professional judgment in selecting the home that best meets the needs of a child. 

The child-related factors to be considered include the following:

  • The child's current functioning and behaviors
  • The medical, educational, and developmental needs of the child
  • The child's history and past experiences
  • The child's cultural needs
  • The child's age and level of care needed
  • The child's interests and talents
  • The child's attachments to current caregivers

The factors to be considered in assessing a prospective resource family's suitability to care for a particular child include the family's ability to do the following:

  • Accept and help the child understand their permanent plan
  • Work with the child's parents or caregivers toward the permanent plan
  • Form relationships with the specific child
  • Help the child integrate into the family
  • Accept the child's background and help the child cope with their past
  • Accept the behavior and personality of the specific child
  • Validate the child's cultural background
  • Meet the child's specific educational, developmental, or psychological needs

Other Considerations

Citation: DFCS Policy Man., Section D(V)(C)

Siblings who enter placement at or near the same time shall be placed together unless any of the following apply:

  • Doing so would be harmful to one or more of the siblings
  • One of the siblings has exceptional needs that can be met only in a specialized program or facility
  • The size of the sibling group makes such placement impractical notwithstanding diligent efforts to place the group together

If a sibling group is separated at initial placement, the caseworker shall make immediate efforts to locate or recruit a family in whose home the siblings can be reunited.