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Louisiana Child Distress News

Given Louisiana’s 34-year average rank of 49th among the states for child well-being, it is not reasonable to think of our children in terms of “well-being,” so these articles fall under “Louisiana Child Distress News.” For the same reason that no one calls a hospital’s trauma unit or emergency department a “wellness center,” it seems more accurate to consider the condition of Louisiana’s children in terms of child distress.

DateNews Report
04/16/2024 Study links petrochemical plants in Louisiana to premature and low-weight births – by William Brangham and Layla Quran – PBS NewsHour

About a fifth of America’s petrochemical production is concentrated on a stretch of land along the Mississippi River in southeastern Louisiana. That production comes with serious risks. The area has been known as ‘Cancer Alley’ because of the high rates of cancer among people who live nearby. A new study now shows how those risks may fall on the next generation as well. William Brangham reports.

04/10/2024 DCFS accused in lawsuit of failing to protect abused childrenThe Gazette

The complaint describes a child welfare system with far too few workers and far too few adequate placements for children, where children are routinely subjected to mental and physical harm. The complaint asserts that these problems, and the harm to Louisiana’s foster children, is well known to the state and has continued for at least the last 10 years, while the state has failed to take necessary action and continued to cut the DCFS budget. The complaint points to data that show overwhelming caseloads, high placement instability, lack of access to medical care, and rates of child death in the state 50% higher than the national average.

01/10/2024 Federal court won’t overturn ban on youth at Angola because it’s already expired – by Julie O’Donoghue – Louisiana Illuminator

An injunction state officials have been fighting ran out on its own in mid-December. Louisiana also shut down its juvenile justice facility at Angola several weeks earlier in September, rendering the whole dispute theoretical for the time being, according to the judges.

10/18/2023 Lawmakers examine Louisiana’s festering mental health care system – by Greg LaRose – Louisiana Illuminator

Testimony before a new Louisiana legislative panel Tuesday ripped the Band-Aid off the state’s ailing mental health care system. The bulk of the discussion centered on the maze patients in the Medicaid system, which provides care for 39% of Louisiana residents according to the state health department, must navigate for treatment, and how that care is often inadequate, interrupted or not covered by the government-provided insurance.

08/16/2023 Children account for one-third of Louisiana’s Medicaid roll removals – by Julie O’Donoghue – Louisiana Illuminator

Approximately 35% of the 50,600 people removed from Louisiana’s Medicaid health insurance coverage in July were children, according to information the state Department of Health provided this week.

Most returning appear to be children, she said. Families may have realized their children were booted from Medicaid when they went to the doctors for vaccines, sports medicine evaluations or other pre-school checkups and signed them back up again.

LeBlanc also said schools work closely with the health department to make sure children who qualify for Medicaid get enrolled at the beginning of the school year.

The state must retroactively reinstate the benefits of any person who is dropped from Medicaid but still qualifies for it within 90 days of their initial disenrollment. This means a child who inadvertently was removed from Medicaid but winds up in a doctor’s office or emergency room within three months will still be able to get health care coverage.

07/25/2023Report: Louisiana one of the worst states for child wellbeing – by Emma Hurt – Axios New Orleans

“Louisiana’s poor ranking in children’s economic wellbeing impacts every other area of child wellbeing,” Teresa Falgoust, director of data and research at the Agenda for Children, told Axios.

06/07/2023Editorial: Plenty of revenue, but less money for children | Our Views Staff Editorial,

Business groups are strong advocates for early childhood education, in part because of the long-term benefits; dollar for dollar, quality programs are one of the best investments we can make in future workforce readiness. They see a shorter-term benefit as well, because parents need child care in order to go to work.

06/09/2023Louisiana’s Early Care and Education at Risk to Cuts in Funding – by Site Staff, Biz New Orleans

In 2019, a bipartisan commission unanimously approved a plan to address the lack of high-quality, affordable child care for vulnerable families, Investing in Our Future: LA B to 3. However, that plan has not been fully implemented. Now, the state continues to serve a fraction of in-need children, aged birth to three, while Louisiana’s kindergarten readiness rate hovers around 40 percent.

05/29/2023Dispute over teen group home in Pointe Coupee Parish lands in federal court – by Jonathan Shelley,

The operators of a group home for minors with disabilities has filed a federal lawsuit against Pointe Coupee Parish over its recently enacted ban on such homes. Believe Therapeutic Group Home LLC filed its complaint in the US District Court based in Baton Rouge on Friday.

05/22/2023These parishes don’t have a juvenile jail. Sheriffs, DA say that’s getting costly and dangerous – by Rebecca Holland, WBRZ2The Advocate

Clayton, Stassi, West Baton Rouge Sheriff Mike Cazes and Pointe Coupee Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux all want a detention facility built on the westside, but getting that done is not an easy task. Juvenile detention centers require different services and staff than adult jails, such as teachers and mental health experts.”

05/22/2023Can Louisiana’s children be helped? Lawmakers push this potential solution for welfare failures: A bill to create the new ombudsman position is moving through Louisiana’s legislature. by Andrea Gallo, Louisiana Politics section, Times Picayune

Senate Bill 137 received unanimous support this week in the State Senate and now moves to Louisiana’s House of Representatives.

The ombudsman would review complaints about the treatment of children in state care and brief the Legislature annually on their findings. Their job would entail recommending changes to how Louisiana’s state agencies serve children and releasing a report every two years on the conditions of children in confinement in state-run facilities.

03/16/2023Webster officials continue to research answers to youth detention problems – by Bonnie Culverhouse, Webster Parish Journal via

“We need more workers,” Scott said at the first meeting. “We are terribly understaffed. State law says we must have one worker per eight kids, and we can’t keep them. We are probably 10 short in detention and 25 to 30 short overall.”

03/15/2023 Editorial: To protect kids, we need better staffed agencies | Our Views – Staff Editorial, The Advocate

Ultimately, more effective government remains elusive but vital in responding — whether through DCFS or police work, along with nonprofit organizations and faith communities — to what threatens our state’s most vulnerable residents, our young people.

02/26/2023Louisiana 211 provides vital assistance throughout state – by Jack Barlow, Louisiana Inspired |

Louisiana 211 is crewed by 120 people in area offices throughout the state. The network maintains a computerized database of over 15,000 statewide resources and services that is constantly updated: these include nonprofit agencies, faith-based organizations and government agencies.

01/17/2023Bogalusa saw its deadliest year in 2022. How can it recover? – by Lara Nicholson,

Rural homicides in Louisiana have risen dramatically in recent years to at 17 killings per 100,000 people as of 2020, per CDC data — three times the national rural homicide rate.

12/23/2022 Child poverty rates highest in states that haven’t raised minimum wage: Louisiana has the second-highest child poverty rate in the U.S. at 26.3%, by Casey Quinlan, Louisiana Illuminator

States where legislatures have not raised the minimum above the federal $7.25 an hour include Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. All have child poverty rates of 20% or higher, according to U.S. Census data analyzed by 24/7 Wall Street, a financial news site. Mississippi has the highest child poverty rate in the United States, at 27.6%, with Louisiana following at 26.3%.

Louisiana last raised its minimum wage in 2008, the year before the federal rate increased to $7.25 an hour.

11/19/2022‘Misleading’ health data hid higher rates of asthma-related ER visits in St. John Parish, state cites error – by Joshua Rosenberg, The Lens

By presenting “smoothed data” without qualification, LDH essentially halved the actual number of asthma-related emergency department (ED) visits in any given year in its dataset, said Boothe, who’s now retired but works on a volunteer basis with the environmental groups 350 New Orleans and Climate Reality.

11/04/2022John Bel Edwards launches second investigation into Ware Youth Center
Child advocate: State should pull incarcerated girls from facility until it is deemed safe
– by Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

Gov. John Bel Edwards has announced he will launch a second state investigation – one that includes the Department of Children and Family Services and the Office of Juvenile Justice – into Ware Youth Center, a large juvenile detention facility in Coushatta.

Ware’s staff allegedly engaged in sexual abuse, choking and other physical violence against incarcerated youth in its care over a period of 25 years, according to a report from The New York Times.

10/27/2022School Board aware of EPA’s recommendation to relocate Fifth Ward Elementary students – by Brooke Robichaux, L’Observateur

This week, Interim Superintendent Rebecca Johnson was made aware of a letter from the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. Addressed to the secretaries of LDEQ and the Louisiana Department of Health, the 56-page letter suggested the departments have allowed air pollution from the nearby Denka Performance Elastomer facility to put a predominantly Black community at risk of adverse health impacts.

08/09/2022Louisiana youth prison job applicants who fail abuse screening get second chance: The state struggles to attract employees to work in its juvenile justice facilities. – Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

Facing a chronic shortage of workers, Louisiana’s Office of Juvenile Justice is providing more flexibility to job applicants who want to work as guards in the state’s youth incarceration facilities, including when it comes to screening for the threat of pedophilia.

Instead, some applicants are being allowed to move forward even if they fail that test as long as they can pass a four-hour, one-on-one assessment with a psychologist.

08/09/2022Youth justice advocates worry about sending juveniles to Angola – Jessica Knox,

Concerns are growing over the treatment of juvenile inmates in Louisiana. In July, Governor John Bel Edwards announced inmates at the Bridge City Center for Youth will be moved to a facility at the state prison, Angola. But youth justice advocates say that will only make things worse.

08/09/2022Juvenile justice official suggests Louisiana prosecutors should charge more minors as adults: The Office of Juvenile Justice will be meeting with district attorneys to discuss options – Julie O’Donoghue, Lousiana Illuminator

A new administrator for the state Office of Juvenile Justice suggested Monday that Louisiana prosecutors need to consider charging more underage teenagers with adult crimes. His stance has rankled child welfare advocates who believe people under 18 should not face adult prison sentences that can last decades.

08/08/2022Louisiana Supreme Court could decide legality of kids being held in out-of-state juvenile detention facilities – Nick Chrastil, The Lens NOLA

The Louisiana Supreme Court could soon weigh in on whether it is legal for cities and parishes throughout the state to send incarcerated juvenile defendants to detention facilities across state lines — a practice that has been going on for years, but one that some attorneys and youth advocates say violates state law and goes against best practices.

08/08/2022Louisiana school district bans corporal

A Louisiana school system is banning paddling students, saying the time to use corporal punishment in the classroom is long past.

The St. Landry Parish School Board voted unanimously Thursday to specifically prohibit corporal punishment in the district’s police manual, the Daily World of Opelousas reported.

05/11/2022Why Louisiana counseling centers are seeing a rise in kids with grief – Roby Chavez, NPR News Hour

Dr. Denese Shervington, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Tulane University’s School of Medicine, said her fear “is that children’s sadness will look like badness,” and they won’t get the kind of support they need, Shervington said. “Unfortunately, for Black and brown children, that puts them at higher risk for being in the juvenile justice system. Unfortunately, we misdiagnose those kids and mislabel these grieving kids as having a conduct disorder.”

04/11/2022Frequent escapes from youth center cause state senator to call for its closure – Sarah Lawrence,

A state senator is calling for the closure of the Bridge City Center for Youth after the number of escapes from the facility rose to 15 this year.

04/06/2022Lessons on suicide prevention could be in store for Louisiana students – by JC Canicosa, Louisiana Illuminator

House Bill 495, authored by. Rep. Laurie Schlegel, R-Metairie, would require Louisiana public schools teach sixth- through 12th-graders about suicide prevention, student safety, violence prevention and social inclusion. The bill would also give schools the chance to create student-led clubs based around suicide prevention.

03/10/2022“No Light. No Nothing.” Inside Louisiana’s Harshest Juvenile Lockup – Beth Schwartzapfel, The Marshall Project; Erin Einhorn and Annie Waldman; NBC News and ProPublica

Louisiana holds about 350 youths, more than 80% of whom are Black, in secure facilities; it has promised for decades to move its lockups toward a more therapeutic model. But like many states, it has failed to fully fund or commit to the new approach. That, combined with a debilitating staff turnover caused by low pay and dangerous conditions, has meant staff members haven’t been properly trained to prevent the violence and chaos that has erupted.

03/10/2022‘No light. No nothing.’ Inside Louisiana’s harshest juvenile lockup, quietly opened last year – Beth Schwartzapfel, Erin Einhorn and Annie Waldman | The Marshall Project; NBC News and ProPublica, The Advocate

While the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services inspects and licenses juvenile group homes and detention facilities where youths are held when they’re first accused of crimes, only the Office of Juvenile Justice has authority over secure care facilities like St. Martinville where teens are placed after they’ve been sentenced. A legislative task force described this “glaring gap in oversight” in 2019, recommending that an outside agency inspect the facilities. But nothing has changed.

02/17/2022$1.2 billion needed over next decade to improve child care in Louisiana, state panel says – by Will Sentell, The Advocate

Commission members also complained that the Legislature is not standing by its commitment to offer matching funds for local communities that raise dollars for child care.

12/22/2021One in five children hungry in Louisiana – Brooke Thorington,

A recent study shows Louisiana continues to have one of the highest levels of food insecurity in the country. Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America says more than half a million Louisianans, including one in five children, struggle with hunger.

09/09/2021Louisiana public defenders don’t know where youths evacuated from detention centers were taken – Rachel Mipro, Louisiana Illuminator

Public defenders are still scrambling to locate children who were being held at Louisiana detention centers when Hurricane Ida hit last month. Many of these youths were evacuated with no information given to their local defenders, who are now uncertain as to where they are being held.

07/01/2021Lifting Louisiana’s economy starts with helping children | Neva Butkus – Neva Butkus, Louisiana Illuminator

Putting the interests of wealthy people and corporations ahead of low-income families is what’s landed our children in 48th place. If our elected officials want to get serious about improving Louisiana’s economy, they should focus on making strategic investments in our future through investing in our children.

06/29/2021Our Views: Louisiana not quite dead last on rankings, but we must do better for our children – Staff Editorial, The Advocate

Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Minnesota topped the state results at the first-, second- and third-ranked states. It’s no secret why they’re doing so much better than us. These states invest more in their children, and they’ve done so for many years.

06/23/2021Louisiana ranks 48th in overall child well-being, a report finds – JC Canicosa, Louisiana Illuminator

Thirty-six of every 100,000 Louisiana children died in 2019 compared to 25 of 100,000 nationwide. The Kids Count report says the child death rate “reflects a broad array of factors: physical and mental health; access to health care; community issues; use of safety practices; and, especially for younger children, the level of adult supervision.”

06/21/2021Report: Louisiana among worst for child well-being even before COVID; what does future hold? – Charles Lussier, The Advocate

In the decade leading up to the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the well-being of Louisiana’s children remained near the bottom of the nation, showing limited improvement even as the nation as a whole improved by almost every measure, including a 5 percentage point decline in the number of children living in poverty.

01/21/2021Louisiana schools leader decries plunge in reading scores: ‘I am alarmed’ – Will Sentell, The Advocate
10/14/2020LA ACT scores fall for third consecutive year – Matt Doyle, Louisiana Radio Network
09/06/2020Louisiana has 8th most underprivileged children – Bernadette Lee,
06/26/2020Why is Louisiana the worst place in US for children? This report breaks it down – Leigh Guidry, Shreveport Times
05/10/2020Sen. Bill Cassidy On Reopening Schools: Children Are Paying A High Price At Home – James Doubek, NPR
02/14/2020Report: Louisiana ranks 50th for economic well-being of its children – David Jacobs, The Center Square
11/09/2019Mentally ill children in Louisiana do not receive adequate services through Medicaid, lawsuit says – Emily Woodruff, Times Picayune
11/04/2019Louisiana ranked second highest in the nation for rates of early births in 2018, a ten-year high – Kaylee Poche, Gambit
10/31/2019New survey shows vaping is increasing in Louisiana’s students, names JUUL as brand of choice – Emily Woodruff, Times Picayune
08/12/2019Church offers prayers for all Calcasieu school employeesAmerican Press Lindsay Halpin
08/12/2019New Louisiana law aims to prevent suicide in schools across Drew Marine
07/05/2019In La., new youth prisons to replace outdated onesDaily Comet Grace Toohey
06/27/2019New Orleans schools seek better discipline process as expulsions drop but suspensions|Times Picayune Wilborn P. Nobles, III
06/26/2019Schools chief John White: Early education funding boost still not enough for Louisiana’s childrenThe Advocate Della Hasselle
06/19/2019Families of 1,400 Louisiana children will soon be added to child care assistance|Times Picayune Wilborn P. Nobles, III
06/17/2019Louisiana’s child population drops by 100k over last 3|Times Picayune Wilborn P. Nobles, III
03/01/2018Louisiana sees 77 percent rise in juvenile human, Amber Smith
01/21/2018Mentoring LC youths: City’s juvenile crime rate has risen by 25 percentThe American Press, John Guidroz
10/23/2017Report: Louisiana too quick to toss troubled, especially black students; alternative schools not helpingThe Advocate, Will Sentell
06/09/2017Without fanfare, governor’s ban on paddling disabled students expandedThe Advocate, Will Sentell
06/05/2017Louisiana is the worst state in the U.S. for children, report | The Times Picayune
05/16/2017Deep-seated student poverty cited as root of Louisiana’s education problemsThe Advocate, Charles Lussier
05/03/2017Reduced funding, low salaries put state’s most vulnerable children at riskLouisiana Budget Project
05/03/2017Louisiana’s learning-disabled students graduate at low rates, report | The Times Picayune, Danielle Dreilinger
05/01/2017New study shows just how much Louisiana parents struggle to balance children, careersThe Advocate, Andrea Gallo
04/14/2017Paddling Louisiana students with disabilities? Governor says make it illegalThe Advocate, Will Sentel
04/12/2017Former Orleans judge: Time to stop sentencing children to death by prisonTimes Picayune, Judge Miriam Waltzer (retired), letter to the editor
04/12/2017Lack of early education severely limits a child’s future: A letter to the editorThe Times Picayune, Major Gen. (Ret.) Maynard “Sandy” Sanders, letter to the editor
04/06/2017State education officials are investigating an incident in which a 9-year-old was handcuffed at schoolThe LENS, Marta Jewson
03/21/2017Plan to End Children’s Mental Health Program Faces PushbackU.S. News and World Reports, Melinda Deslatte
12/13/2016Corporal punishment causes controversy among Louisiana parentsThe Town Talk, Miranda Klein and Lex Talamo
11/30/2016Feds ask Louisiana to ban paddling in school – Danielle Dreilinger,, The Times-Picayune
11/28/2016DCFS: Rate of drug addicted newborns tripled since 2008 – Louisiana Radio Network
11/21/2016Louisiana ranks #1 for best anti-trafficking laws – The TownTalk, Lex Talamo
11/16/2016Corporal punishment causes controversy among local parents” – ShreveportTimes, Lex Talamo
10/18/201645 arrested, 3 rescued in Louisiana as part of FBI-led child sex trafficking crackdown” – WDSU, Juan Sanchez
10/03/2016Floods threaten the mental health of children” – National Resources Defense Council, Juanita Constible
10/01/2016Mental Health Transition Update” – ShreveportTimes, Lex Talamo
10/01/2016WATCHDOG: Louisiana children sent out of state for psychiatric care” – ShreveportTimes, Lex Talamo
09/30/2016Louisiana once spent little to help care for the youngest children; now it’s spending less” – The Advocate
09/29/2016Struggling for Childcare in Louisiana” – Louisiana Budget Project
09/07/2016Judge’s Football Team Loses, Juvenile Sentences Go Up” – The Atlantic
08/11/2016Louisiana among the worst states for underprivileged children” –
07/12/2016Louisiana churches work to get children out of poverty” – Houma Today, Kevinisha Walker
05/10/2016The foster care system is pushing college students into homelessness: When your 18th birthday is like walking the plank” – The Hechinger Report, Andre Perry
12/10/2015Edwards: ‘Children must be No. 1 priority’” – TheNewsStar, Greg Hilburn
11/05/2015Louisiana Graded F for Number of Premature Births in 2015” –, Tyana Daquano
08/17/2015Other States Significantly Improve Child Well Being” – The Lafourche Gazette, Rick Wheat
07/03/2014In New Orleans, a case study in how school, health care decentralization affect neediest children” – The Hechinger Report, Sarah Carr
03/14/2011Louisiana Children, Poverty, and the Faith Community” – Fr. Fred Kammer, SJ. Presented to the for Louisiana Interchurch Conference, 41st Annual Assembly on March 14, 2011, in Lafayette, Louisiana.
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