DHS Short on Staff

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Officials with the Mississippi Department of Human Services say a
$2.48 million federal bonus for child support will not help fill the underfunded agency's staffing shortage.

DHS officials say the agency has a $19.8 million shortfall for fiscal year 2003. There is a 35% attorney vacancy rate in the child support division.

DHS Division of Child Support Enforcement director Alsee McDaniel said the agency will use the funds to cover basic operating costs and to reimburse the state.

McDaniel said the funds could be used to hire staff and purchase equipment only if DHS was not underfunded.

The federal incentives are based on five performance standards that measure an agency's efficiency in child support enforcement.