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Improving Louisiana for Children, Checklists

This is a short checklist for improving Louisiana for Children. These are some of the specific steps the State of Louisiana can take to make Louisiana a better place for Children.

Checklists for Improving Louisiana for Children

There are two lists: “To Do” and “Done!”


To Do

Louisiana is a land of opportunities for individuals and groups wishing to improve conditions for children. This checklist is a starting place. As items are completed, they are moved to the list below, “Done!”

  • Establish a comprehensive kinship care program for children in foster care.

  • More Louisianans must become informed about the work of Louisiana’s Legislature regarding children’s issues and communicate with their elected officials to remind them that we want to move Louisiana’s children off the bottom of child well-being. We cannot allow Louisiana to rank 49th on child well-being for another 33 years!

  • Louisiana must replace its many “placeholder services” with full-scale programs of care designed to meet the needs of all those who are eligible to benefit. This is especially true for Nurse-Family Partnership, which is currently funded for only 16% of those who are eligible. The Coordinated System of Care (or “CSOC”) is another critical “placeholder service” which serves no more than 2,400 of Louisiana’s 1,000,000 children (only .0024%).  [Yes, count those decimals.]

  • Every child is DCFS and OJJ custody would benefit from CSOC’s Wraparound Services, but again, we offer only 2,400 slots for a million Louisiana children.

  • Louisiana’s Governors and Legislators must properly fund the state’s services for children. This is especially true of the Department of Children and Family Services and the Office of Juvenile Justice. States that do well by their children invest in programming and facilities.

  • Except when required for medical reasons, Louisiana must end out-of-state placements for treatment or detention. To this end, we must find ways to keep Louisiana Children home, near their families and communities.

  • Improving Louisiana for children requires the state to maintain physical facilities and therapeutic staff capable of meeting the needs of children who require structured care.

  • Louisiana’s Juvenile Detention and Incarceration services must become therapeutic. Every incarceration or detention of a children is an opportunity for therapeutic interventions.

  • Educational services for children in out-of-home settings must be a priority.

  • Relative to 2007, correct Louisiana’s under-funding of its public child welfare system. Louisiana’s Governors and Legislatures have underfunded DCFS by $4.8 billion (yes, with a B) and about 17,000 staff/years. Louisiana’s children would be better served if we planned for children’s services and funding the same way Louisiana plans for erosion control at $50 billion over 50 years.

  • Waive college tuition for Children who have been in foster care. (Come on, Louisiana! Even Mississippi provides “$1 million in state scholarships for public and private school fees for young people who were in state custody on or after their 13th birthday”.)

  • Seek reaccreditation for DCFS. Louisiana’s DCFS was once an example for the nation. From 2004 to 2015, Louisiana was one of only five states whose DCFS achieved national accreditation by the Council on Accreditation (“COA”). Louisiana would improve services for children if Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services prepared again for national accreditation.

  • Prohibit corporal punishment in schools, especially the unlimited forms of punishment that LA law allows: “hitting, paddling, striking, spanking, slapping, or any other physical force that causes pain or physical discomfort” [LA Rev Stat § 17:416.1] against Children in elementary school, subject to each school’s “governing authority”.)

  • Improving Louisiana for children means increasing transparency by creating a Child welfare dashboard (see the West Virginia Child Welfare Dashboard for a new example).

  • Louisiana parents have a right to know about Child well-being and Child welfare in our state. Consequently, Louisiana should restore and maintain the Louisiana Kids Dashboard. (Try and find it.). It was once at https://www.kidsdashboard.la.gov/, then it moved to https://www.facebook.com/LouisianaKidsDashboard/. (Facebook reports, “This content isn’t available right now. When this happens, it’s usually because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted.”)

  • Louisiana should ensure that all federal benefits designed for Children and their families are received by or retained for the intended Child. Federal benefits for children (“survivor’s benefits” for example) should not be used to reimburse state services provided to Children in foster care. (see Were You Ever in Foster Care? Here’s How to Find Out if the Government Took Your Money)


Done!

We do get things done in Louisiana! The following items are on the “Done!” list because Louisianans took active steps to make Louisiana a better place for children.


updated: 20230712

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