Mississippi Code Title 43. Public Welfare § 43-21-105. Definitions

The following words and phrases, for purposes of this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly otherwise requires:

(a) “Youth court” means the Youth Court Division.

(b) “Judge” means the judge of the Youth Court Division.

(c) “Designee” means any person that the judge appoints to perform a duty which this chapter requires to be done by the judge or his designee.  The judge may not appoint a person who is involved in law enforcement or who is an employee of the Mississippi Department of Human Services to be his designee.

(d) “Child” and “youth” are synonymous, and each means a person who has not reached his eighteenth birthday.  A child who has not reached his eighteenth birthday and is on active duty for a branch of the armed services or is married is not considered a “child” or “youth” for the purposes of this chapter.

(e) “Parent” means the father or mother to whom the child has been born, or the father or mother by whom the child has been legally adopted.

(f) “Guardian” means a court-appointed guardian of the person of a child.

(g) “Custodian” means any person having the present care or custody of a child whether such person be a parent or otherwise.

(h) “Legal custodian” means a court-appointed custodian of the child.

(i) “Delinquent child” means a child who has reached his tenth birthday and who has committed a delinquent act.

(j) “Delinquent act” is any act, which if committed by an adult, is designated as a crime under state or federal law, or municipal or county ordinance other than offenses punishable by life imprisonment or death.  A delinquent act includes escape from lawful detention and violations of the Uniform Controlled Substances Law and violent behavior.

(k) “Child in need of supervision” means a child who has reached his seventh birthday and is in need of treatment or rehabilitation because the child:

(i) Is habitually disobedient of reasonable and lawful commands of his parent, guardian or custodian and is ungovernable;  or

(ii) While being required to attend school, willfully and habitually violates the rules thereof or willfully and habitually absents himself therefrom;  or

(iii) Runs away from home without good cause;  or

(iv) Has committed a delinquent act or acts.

(l) “Neglected child” means a child:

(i) Whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, neglects or refuses, when able so to do, to provide for him proper and necessary care or support, or education as required by law, or medical, surgical, or other care necessary for his well-being;  however, a parent who withholds medical treatment from any child who in good faith is under treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner thereof shall not, for that reason alone, be considered to be neglectful under any provision of this chapter;  or

(ii) Who is otherwise without proper care, custody, supervision or support;  or

(iii) Who, for any reason, lacks the special care made necessary for him by reason of his mental condition, whether the mental condition is having mental illness or having an intellectual disability;  or

(iv) Who, for any reason, lacks the care necessary for his health, morals or well-being.

(m) “Abused child” means a child whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, whether legally obligated to do so or not, has caused or allowed to be caused, upon the child, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, emotional abuse, mental injury, nonaccidental physical injury or other maltreatment.  However, physical discipline, including spanking, performed on a child by a parent, guardian or custodian in a reasonable manner shall not be deemed abuse under this section.  “Abused child” also means a child who is or has been trafficked within the meaning of the Mississippi Human Trafficking Act by any person, without regard to the relationship of the person to the child.

(n) “Sexual abuse” means obscene or pornographic photographing, filming or depiction of children for commercial purposes, or the rape, molestation, incest, prostitution or other such forms of sexual exploitation of children under circumstances which indicate that the child's health or welfare is harmed or threatened.

(o) “A child in need of special care” means a child with any mental or physical illness that cannot be treated with the dispositional alternatives ordinarily available to the youth court.

(p) A “dependent child” means any child who is not a child in need of supervision, a delinquent child, an abused child or a neglected child, and which child has been voluntarily placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services by his parent, guardian or custodian.

(q) “Custody” means the physical possession of the child by any person.

(r) “Legal custody” means the legal status created by a court order which gives the legal custodian the responsibilities of physical possession of the child and the duty to provide him with food, shelter, education and reasonable medical care, all subject to residual rights and responsibilities of the parent or guardian of the person.

(s) “Detention” means the care of children in physically restrictive facilities.

(t) “Shelter” means care of children in physically nonrestrictive facilities.

(u) “Records involving children” means any of the following from which the child can be identified:

(i) All youth court records as defined in Section 43-21-251 ;

(ii) All social records as defined in Section 43-21-253 ;

(iii) All law enforcement records as defined in Section 43-21-255 ;

(iv) All agency records as defined in Section 43-21-257 ;  and

(v) All other documents maintained by any representative of the state, county, municipality or other public agency insofar as they relate to the apprehension, custody, adjudication or disposition of a child who is the subject of a youth court cause.

(v) “Any person responsible for care or support” means the person who is providing for the child at a given time.  This term shall include, but is not limited to, stepparents, foster parents, relatives, nonlicensed babysitters or other similar persons responsible for a child and staff of residential care facilities and group homes that are licensed by the Department of Human Services.

(w) The singular includes the plural, the plural the singular and the masculine the feminine when consistent with the intent of this chapter.

(x) “Out-of-home” setting means the temporary supervision or care of children by the staff of licensed day care centers, the staff of public, private and state schools, the staff of juvenile detention facilities, the staff of unlicensed residential care facilities and group homes and the staff of, or individuals representing, churches, civic or social organizations.

(y) “Durable legal custody” means the legal status created by a court order which gives the durable legal custodian the responsibilities of physical possession of the child and the duty to provide him with care, nurture, welfare, food, shelter, education and reasonable medical care.  All these duties as enumerated are subject to the residual rights and responsibilities of the natural parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child or children.

(z) “Status offense” means conduct subject to adjudication by the youth court that would not be a crime if committed by an adult.

(aa) “Financially able” means a parent or child who is ineligible for a court-appointed attorney.

(bb) “Assessment” means an individualized examination of a child to determine the child's psychosocial needs and problems, including the type and extent of any mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders and recommendations for treatment.  The term includes, but is not limited to, a drug and alcohol, psychological or psychiatric evaluation, records review, clinical interview or the administration of a formal test and instrument.

(cc) “Screening” means a process, with or without the administration of a formal instrument, that is designed to identify a child who is at increased risk of having mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders that warrant immediate attention, intervention or more comprehensive assessment.

(dd) “Durable legal relative guardianship” means the legal status created by a youth court order that conveys the physical and legal custody of a child or children by durable legal guardianship to a relative or fictive kin who is licensed as a foster or resource parent.

(ee) “Relative” means a person related to the child by affinity or consanguinity within the third degree.

(ff) “Fictive kin” means a person not related to the child legally or biologically but who is considered a relative due to a significant, familial-like and ongoing relationship with the child and family.

(gg) “Reasonable efforts” means the exercise of reasonable care and due diligence by the Department of Human Services, the Department of Child Protection Services, or any other appropriate entity or person to use appropriate and available services to prevent the unnecessary removal of the child from the home or provide other services related to meeting the needs of the child and the parents.


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