The artwork donated by local artists now hangs in the youth court lobby. Hancock County Court Judge Trent Favre unveiled the Halls of Hope this year. The purpose is to provide a welcoming and safe atmosphere for families. An open house is scheduled for today from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Hancock County Youth Court located on Court Street.

The month of June is National Reunification Month and local agencies are collaborating to host Hancock County's Family Reunification Celebration.

According to the American Bar Association's website, National Reunification Month "recognizes the people and efforts around the country that help families to stay together."

In January 2018, when Hancock County Court Judge Trent Favre took the bench, there were 389 children in custody.

As of Thursday, there are 150 children in custody, Hancock County Youth Court staff attorney Kelly Creely said. Of that 389, 129 have been reunited with family members.

When an issue develops in the home, Creely said Child Protective Services prepares the report and relays that information to Favre.

At that point, officials decide if the case can be resolved with the child remaining in the home. If it can't be resolved in the home, the child is taken into custody, Creely said.

In his January State of the Youth Court address, Favre said that CPS has pushed the "Safe at Home" initiative.

"The goal is to keep children safe at home," Favre said at the Jan. 22 Hancock County supervisors meeting. "It's a national and state effort to provide in-home services instead of removal due to the trauma of the child. Children are traumatized when they are removed from their parents. They need to go home safely and that is what we are doing in our youth court."

"The celebration is for the parents that really worked hard and proved to the court that they deserve their children," Creely said. "The parents did everything the courts asked and it's really hard for parents when they've been told you can't raise your kids."

The Family Reunification Celebration, which is co-sponsored by Child Protective Services, CASA, and Hancock County Youth Court, is scheduled for June 20 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Old Town Community Center, located above the parking garage on Court Street in Bay St. Louis.

Parents who were involved with the Hancock County Youth Court, and reunited with their children between Jan. 1, 2018 to present, are invited to attend.

There will be select speakers, workers from local agencies, a photo booth by Snaparzzi, cake provided by Silver Slipper Casino, and sno-balls provided by Paule's snowballs.

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