Several internal factors within Hancock County’s Youth Court and its Department of Human Services office appear to be the primary causes of the county’s high rate of children in state custody, according to a report by the state Legislature’s investigative committee.

PEER is the Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review. It found irregular policies in Hancock County Youth Court as well as problems with DHS staffing and heavy workload rates have contributed to the record high number of children in custody.

PEER noted the number of Hancock County children in state custody increased 148 percent over the last five years and became the state’s highest per-capita rate at the end of 2014.

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