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Louisiana Program seeks better outcomes for foster children

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Lukes Dad's picture
on Fri, 03/29/2013 - 13:32
Fight Child Protection Department Corruption: 
Program seeks better outcomes for foster children

The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services on Monday announced a new initiative designed to reduce the number of children in foster care and the amount of time each child spends in the system.

The program will try to ensure that 85 percent of children in foster care will either be reunited with their family or placed for adoption within 24 months, according to DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier, who announced the new program in Lafayette.

"Our goal is that the child can live a happy productive life with no need for further involvement from DCFS," Sonnier said.

Sonnier said she expects the initiative to reduce the number of children in foster care by 1,000 from the 3,900 in the system at any time and that 95 percent will not return to foster care. DCFS aims to ensure that 50 percent of the children in foster care will be adopted within 24 months and 75.2 percent reunited with their families within 12 months.

In the past five years, DCFS has reduced the number of children in foster care in Louisiana from 5,128 in April 2007 to 4,007 in February 2013. Sonnier said the initiative will continue into 2015.

Sonnier said the most important facet of the Faith in Families initiative, however, is to ensure that each child has a permanent connection when they leave foster care.

"Research indicates that children who age out of foster care without a permanent connection face significant challenges, including homelessness, unemployment, mental health and substance abuse issues and involvement with the criminal justice system," Sonnier said. "Lifelong connections are key to ensuring that these children have a place to live, stay in school and make positive decisions about their lives going forward."

Trey Williams, communications director, said the agents will review foster care cases to see if the children can be safely reunited with their biological families, and if that is not possible, agents will begin looking for adoption options.

"By 2015, 95 percent of all children will exit foster care in a permanent placement — adoption, reunification or legal guardianship," Sonnier said. "We won't have children simply age out of foster care."

Comments

Abused and Murdered Baby Angels's picture

Great article! This makes me proud to be from Louisiana! My mother was a social worker and Department Coordinator and she had morals, ethics, and treated all children and families with respect. Before she retired, she began a pilot program to decrease the amount of kids in foster care by stressing the importance of involving the childrens families as a priority. The goal was to reunite children with their parents and this was done by heavily involving the parents. She passed away in 2002, and she was extremely loved and well known for standing up for foster children's rights, safety, and most importantly for giving them a voice. I'm sure she's happy with this newest development.