A federal court monitor is giving Sumter County's Department of Human Resources high marks. As part of a ruling from a 1988 federal case, all counties in Alabama have been ordered to boost their efforts in addressing cases of child abuse and neglect.
Following a thorough investigation, federal officials are giving the Sumter County DHR the 'thumb's up.
"What that means is that in Sumter County, children and families are extremely safe. That this county has one of the strongest child welfare systems, not only in the state, but probably in the country," said Commissioner Bill Fuller, Alabama Department of Human Resources.
Within the past two years, the number of reported cases of child abuse and neglect in Sumter County has dropped 25-percent. Meanwhile as for cases that are reported in Sumter County, they are now being addressed in record time. The latest numbers show that 100 percent of the reported cases are now initially being addressed within one day of being filed.
"We're screening better, assessing families better and getting in and out of their lives," said Nancy Wilson, Sumter County DHR Director.
Although department efficiency is important, Wilson says success could not be achieved without foster parents such as Jo Ann Jemison. Over the past 22 years, the York native has cared for more than 100 foster children.
"I had so many come and they would call me Ma' Dear. We just had a good time. There are just a lot of children that need homes," said LaToya Johnson, Jemison's Foster Child "As a mother she's done a lot for me. I can always come back to her. She always takes me in and treats me with respect. That means a lot!"
For more information on becoming a foster parent call (205) 652-5022.
Meanwhile, in coming months, Sumter County officials say they plan to offer special classes for parents on the proper way to care for a home.