Parent Defense Program Manager at Office of State Public Defender

OSPD is a state agency created in 2011 through the merger of the Office of Capital Defense Counsel (est. 2001) and the Office of Indigent Appeals (est. 2007) which included the Defender Training Division (est. 2008).

In 2016, HB 772, expanded the scope of OSPD responsibility to include representation of parents in child welfare matters. The law created a procedure for appointment of lawyers to parents facing abuse and neglect allegations and potential termination of parental rights in youth courts and on appeal. It also mandated training of these lawyers. OSPD is authorized to certify these lawyers meet training requirements and provides training and technical assistance in this area as it does for criminal and juvenile matters.

The law also authorized OSPD to handle parent representation in child welfare cases in youth court and on appeal. OSPD is partnering with counties, courts, legal service agencies and attorneys in private practice to provide this direct representation. Direct appeals of such cases have been handled by private contractors who specialize in this area of law.

With the growth of the program and need to ensure parents are receiving the services they deserve, and the taxpayers are receiving the best value for their investment OSPD established the position of Parent Defense Program Manager. Jennifer Morgan began state service on June 1, 2021.

The program manager is primarily responsible for:

+ Providing technical assistance to trial-level parent defenders in Youth Court.
+ Assisting the Training Director in the planning and execution of training events dedicated to youth court parent defenders.
+ Developing and delivering training presentations.
+ Evaluating the parent defense service providers funded in whole or in part by OSPD through review of court files and in-court observations where possible.
+ Providing direct representation to parents appealing matters from the Youth Court and in select cases at trial level as well as handling other Youth Court appeals.
+ Serving as the State Defender’s representative on boards or task forces as well as attending meetings regarding Youth Court matters and policy.

A Parent's Guide to Youth Courts

Performance Standards for Parent Defenders

Performance Standards for Social Workers

Certified Parent Defender Directory


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Mississippi OSPD
2018