|I-TEAM: DCFS brings facility online to prevent housing kids in hotels – by Scottie Hunter, WAFB
In many cases, when children are taken into care but do not have a place to go, some have had to stay at the DCFS office under extreme circumstances while others have had to stay in those area hotels. In fact, since March 2023, the head of the agency tells the WAFB I-TEAM roughly 150 kids who had no other options racked up 1,876 hotel stays.
|DCFS putting a call out for foster caregivers, family support efforts – by Cali Hubbard, WAFB
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is encouraging Louisiana folk to “Be There” for families in the community by reaching out to neighbors in need of resources and support. They’re also putting a desperate call out for foster families.
|Letters: State can do more to help addicted pregnant women | Letter to the Editor by Edward Carlson, chief executive officer, Odyssey House Louisiana, Inc. | Opinions and Editorials | nola.com
The Department of Children and Family Services once had social workers in each region of the state assessing and referring women with a substance use disorder into treatment.
|State lawmaker requests investigation into DCFS following whistleblower’s termination – by Chris Nakamoto, WBRZ
A state lawmaker is requesting an investigation take place at the Department of Children and Family Services after an employee blew the whistle on questionable actions and was told her services were no longer needed.
|DCFS whistleblower says she was fired after raising concerns over child safety – by Chris Nakamoto, WBRZ
A Department of Children and Family Services Child Welfare Specialist said she was terminated last week after telling higher-ups about problems she was witnessing and documented them in emails.
|Children in foster care in Louisiana greatly outnumber certified foster parents – by Brittany Breeding | ArkLaTex In-Depth | ktbs.com
Right now, there are 4,000 children in foster care in the state. There are only 1,700 certified foster families. In the Shreveport area alone there are around 200 foster families and more than 400 children in the system.
| After WBRZ reports, watchdogs want higher authority to investigate child sex abuse cases in Livingston Parish – by Chris Nakamoto, WBRZ.com
On the heels of another shocking case involving child sex abuse that appears to have fallen through the cracks, watchdogs are demanding that a higher authority intervene.
| Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services seeking foster parents for teens. – by Ana Conejo, BRProud.com
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is struggling to find homes for foster teens.
“We need them to be in a stable environment with people who are able to guide them through this part of their life where they are learning to launch into adulthood,” said State Child Welfare Manager of Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services, Athena Long.
| A man seriously burned a young girl. It happened after multiple reports to DCFS. – by Jillian Kramer, NOLA.com
The cases described here are not unique. According to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, which maintains arrest records, a dozen people remained booked in the jail this week on two of the most common charges brought against people accused of abusing children: child endangerment and second-degree cruelty to juveniles.
| DCFS has received 78 reports of child trafficking since Jan. 1 – by Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator
In addition to the 78 cases reported since Jan. 1, Ricks said DCFS has also received additional information on nine previous child trafficking cases through its hotline.
| DCFS secretary notes progress in hiring child welfare workers: Agency restaffing overburdened division – Wesley Muller, Louisiana Illuminator
Secretary Terri Ricks told state lawmakers Wednesday that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has hired 326 full-time workers since July, increasing its total staff from 3,263 to 3,589. The agency’s hiring rate has outpaced its turnover by about 72%, she said.
|Louisiana child abuse cases soar as state agency struggles – by Andrea Gallo, The Advocate
Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Terri Ricks told the state’s Senate Health and Welfare Committee Wednesday that most reports of child neglect or abuse received last month were of urgent enough concern that they demanded responses within 24 or 48 hours.
|Terri Ricks named Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services – by Paula Jones, BRProud
Louisiana has a new secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), as of Wednesday, Dec. 21. Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a news release Wednesday evening, stating that Terri Ricks is now officially serving in the role. Edwards also announced that Amanda Brunson has been named Assistant Secretary.
|Terri Ricks named permanent secretary for Children and Family Services – by Greg LaRose, Louisiana Illuminator
Gov. John Bel Edwards has elevated acting Department of Children and Family Service Secretary Terri Ricks to a permanent role, his office announced Wednesday. Ricks has been holding the position since Marketa Walters stepped down last month.
|Acting DCFS head provides more details on ‘stabilization’ plan for troubled agency – by Sam Carlin, The Advocate
A representative of the legislative auditor told lawmakers Wednesday that the survey showed workers are operating in a “state of crisis” at DCFS. Hundreds of jobs at the agency are unfilled, and the agency’s budget is just over half what it was a decade and a half ago, when Gov. Bobby Jindal took office. The survey found that only 54% of caseworkers are satisfied with their job, though that’s actually an improvement from the 34% satisfied in 2014.
|I-TEAM: Another top leader at DCFS heads for the door amid agency controversy – by Scottie Hunter, KALB.com
Rhenda Hodnett, a top leader with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has announced she plans to retire at the end of the year. This comes one week after the head of the agency, Secretary Marketa Walters, also announced a similar move.
|Our Views: Child welfare head resigns, but her agency is stumbling, and children die – by Staff Editorial, NOLA.com
But we already know much of what an inquiry will find: Overworked and stressed-out child welfare officers with stacks of folders on their desks. That will require more state money and political cooperation in the last year of Edwards’ administration, and beyond.
|I-TEAM: DCFS officials addressing latest failure in child’s overdose death – by Scottie Hunter, WAFB.com
The head of Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services (2022) calls 2022 one of the deadliest years she’s seen for children across the state.
| Baby’s fentanyl death after missed warnings comes amid 13% increase in child fatalities: DCFS has opened probes into 61 child deaths this year – by Andrea Gallo, The Times-Picayune | The Advocate
DCFS caseloads are soaring: The agency investigated 32% more cases over the last six months in Baton Rouge than in the same time period last year, and the number of children entering foster care in Baton Rouge is 66% higher than 2020.
|Baton Rouge toddler dies from fentanyl overdose, multiple agencies investigating – by Allison Bruhl, WKRG.com
Over 400 cases where infants were exposed to substances were investigated in the last year in Baton Rouge, officials said. The agency continues to cite staffing shortages as an issue.
“The cases are mounting, and our staff is low so it’s a crisis in the number of cases and the number of people we have to respond,” said DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters. “I have been doing this for a very long time — I have never seen this number of fatalities in a single year in my career.”
She said there are 61 reported fatalities for the year as of October.
|How did a 1-year-old die of fentanyl despite a warning? State officials give new details. – by Elyse Carmosino, The Advocate
In response to criticism from lawmakers, the agency’s leaders say they are struggling to keep up with a mounting number of cases amid chronic underfunding and a high turnover rate. But some lawmakers have called for the department’s leadership to resign or be fired.
|ITEAM: DCFS admits to failures in handling of case prior to child’s overdose death – by Scottie Hunter, WAFB.com
The worker who spoke with WAFB calls these repeat failures frustrating and tells adds that morale is at an all-time low for those workers who stay and try to do the right thing.
”It’s the mindset. It’s what people think of us and for those that go out and do a very good job, of course it’s disheartening,” the worker said.
|I-TEAM: 1-year-old dies with fentanyl in his system; DCFS worker claims negligence – by Scottie Hunter, WAFB.com
A worker with the Department of Children and Family Services tells the WAFB I-Team that the child has been the subject of an open investigation with the agency but that his case fell through the cracks.
|After ‘gut-wrenching’ death of baby, some lawmakers call for child welfare leadership change – by Andrea Gallo, The Times-Picayune | The Advocate
Lawmakers and a civil rights lawyer said Friday that they are furious — and need more answers — about a 20-month-old’s fentanyl death in Baton Rouge one week after child welfare authorities were warned about his family and four months after another toddler died in similar circumstances.
|Audit finds fault with Louisiana child abuser registry – by Wesley Muller, Louisiana Illuminator
Compared with most other states, Louisiana requires less evidence to place someone’s name on a state registry of alleged child abusers, according to a report from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.
|Louisiana audit finds several issues with state family services organization – by Victor Skinner, The Center Square
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor compared the state’s processes for the Department of Children and Family Services’ central registry to 17 other states for a recent report requested by lawmakers.
|Louisiana has lower bar for validating child abuse claims than many states, new report finds – by Andrea Gallo, The Advocate
Louisiana’s bar for validating child abuse allegations is lower than those in more than a dozen other states, according to a Monday report from the legislative auditor’s office.
|Senator Fred Mills on Louisiana’s Child Welfare Crisis and Department of Children and Family Services – Discover Lafayette
Senator Mills reports that DCFS came up with 15 bullet points on ways the agency can improve its functioning. The Senators want a detailed plan and a timeline as to what DCFS hopes to accomplish. The question Senator Mills raised was, “Do you have the skill set to make the proposed changes and why did it take these two catastrophes to bring about these changes?”
|DCFS to hire 50 nurses to perform home visit for infants exposed to drugs while their mothers were pregnant – by Brooke Thorington, Baton Rouge / louisianaradionetwork.com
The Department of Children and Family Services plans to hire 50 nurses to make home visits to infants who were exposed to substance abuse by their mothers while pregnant. DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters said five years ago the department was ordered to come into compliance with follow-up visits for those infants.
|Toddler deaths prompt changes for Louisiana’s child welfare agency – by Wesley Muller, KTBS.com
Sen. J. Rogers Pope, R-Denham Springs, said the problems at DCFS problem has to do with staffing — not money.
“If money is going to solve this problem, I think that we can find the money,” Pope said. “But money’s not going to solve that problem… We could give you all the money that you wanted, you still couldn’t fill those spots.”
|DCFS, Lawmakers ‘set record straight’ on department funding, tackle policy changes and hiring – by Raychelle Riley, BRProud.com
The Senate committee wanted to set the record straight. Contrary to popular belief that the agency is extremely underfunded, the department’s secretary and lawmakers say otherwise.
“You’ve been funded for everything you’re doing, we funded you for,” stated State Sen. Beth Mizell (R).
“All of those things have been funded and we appreciate that and we acknowledge that,” added Walters.
|DCFS says progress being made but worries continue – By Rob Masson, Fox8Live.com
A Louisiana lawmaker says it might be time to break up the state’s Department of Children and Family Services after several child death cases which appear to have slipped through the cracks. The agency says it is making progress under a new strategic plan, but many still worry.
|Louisiana is flush with cash. Why is child welfare still ‘woefully underfunded’? – by Andrea Gallo, The Times-Picayune | The Advocate
Over the last five years, it’s taken Louisiana an average of 127 hours to open a child welfare investigation after receiving a report of abuse or neglect, according to federal data. The response time is far lower in other Gulf Coast states, including Mississippi and Alabama, which have mean response times of 39 hours and 55 hours, respectively. Nationally, Louisiana ranked among the slowest in the nation for its response times in 2020 — the most recent year of data.
|Louisiana is adding nurses to its child welfare ranks as agency faces calls for reform – by Andrea Gallo, The Times-Picayune | The Advocate
Amid a raging opioid epidemic and mounting investigations into child abuse and neglect in Louisiana, state officials announced Thursday that they plan to hire 50 nurses to help make home visits to families whose infants were exposed to substances in utero.
Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Marketa Garner Walters told state lawmakers Thursday that her agency has hired 11 nurses so far, and that 11 more are in the onboarding process. The new hires, who will be paid $80 per hour, already have been assigned almost 100 cases among them, she said during a Senate Health and Welfare Oversight Committee meeting.
|DCFS Announces Hiring Fairs Statewide This Fall – KATC.com
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services is hosting hiring fairs this fall for open positions throughout the state in its Child Welfare and Family Support divisions.
Those interested in attending are encouraged to register on the DCFS website ahead of the events.
Opportunities available include:
Child Welfare Specialist Trainee
Child Welfare Specialist 1-3
Social Services Analyst 1-3 for Economic Stability
Social Services Analyst 1-3 for Child Support Enforcement
Workforce Development Specialist 1-3
Registration link, along with full descriptions of open positions, will be available at www.dcfs.la.gov/hiring-fair. Positions vary by location.
|Louisiana’s foster care system in need of more foster families – by Dawson Damico, KLFY.com
DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters told News 10 that the biggest need the foster system is looking to improve is more foster parents.
“Covid did a number on our foster parents,” Walters said. “We lost a lot of them. People were afraid. When foster parents take children into their homes, they really do not know much about them. They do not know where they came from. There was disease. There was so much fear.”
|How alarming is Louisiana’s child welfare crisis? 3 numbers that show how kids are suffering. – Andrea Gallo, The Times-Picayune | The Advocate
|These children died after unheeded warnings. Is Louisiana failing its most vulnerable? The Department of Child and Family Services is in crisis. The consequences are deadly. – Andrea Gallo, The Times-Picayune | The Advocate
|Louisiana lawmakers call for changes to family services agency after toddler’s overdose death. – Victor Skinner, The Ouachita Citizen
|Dept. of Children and Family Services facing tough questions after child’s death” – Ariel Salk, BRProud.com
The Senate Select Committee on Women and Children grilled the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) after several children fell between the cracks of the system.
|State to require immediate visits to kids under 3 hospitalized with abuse, neglect concerns: After toddler’s overdose death, DCFS will check in on hospitalized children – Andrea Gallo, The Advocate
Days after a Baton Rouge mother was arrested in a case involving her toddler overdosing on fentanyl and dying, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services announced Monday that its caseworkers will immediately visit young children who are hospitalized under suspicion of abuse or neglect.
|Louisiana’s child welfare agency struggles under ‘crippling’ caseloads, turnovers: ‘We’re drowning’ – Blake Paterson, The Advocate
Faced with skyrocketing caseloads and meager salaries, almost half of the frontline, entry-level social service workers at DCFS quit last year, hampering Louisiana’s ability to care for its most vulnerable residents at a time of unprecedented need.
|Inspired by ‘youth stories,’ a bill of rights for foster kids is now Louisiana law. – Blake Paterson, The Advocate
|Former foster kids make impassioned pleas for legislative support for improvements in state system – The Advocate, Elizabeth Crisp
|Louisiana sees 77 percent rise in juvenile human trafficking – BRProud.com, Amber Smith
|New Safe Haven Set to Reduce Newborn Abandonment – KEDM
The state Department of Children and Family Services has posted an online mapping tool called Safe Haven Facility Locator in an effort to prevent newborn abandonment. Child Protective Services Program Manager Mona Michelli says a mother can visit http://dcfs.la.gov/safehaven/directory/ to find a place where they can give up a child less than 60 days old.
|Beauregard Parish Needs More Foster Homes” – Beauregard Daily News, Chris Schoonover
|North Shore woman ‘stores’ hope for foster children – Nola.com, Karen Baker
|Foster children need special help at 18 – The American Press
|Study shows alarming impact of opioid epidemic on babies born into addiction – by Elizabeth Vowell, WAFB.com
|Reduced funding, low salaries put state’s most vulnerable children at risk – Louisiana Budget Project
|Shortage of foster homes – by Britney Glaser, Anchor, KPLCTV.com
|Take the time to help protect a child – by James E. Stewart Sr., letter to the editor, The Shreveport Times
|Organization raises money for child abuse prevention – by Jordan Legendre, Daily Comet
|Offering a Valentine for Louisiana Children Facing the System Alone – by Gina Womack, Ebony
|Family services agency looking for help at the local level – by Miranda Klein, The Town Talk
|Analysis: Social services agency struggles under budget cuts – by Melinda Deslatte, Associated Press
|Kids in Crisis: Human trafficking victims ending up in state’s care – by Kimberly Curth, FOX8 WVUE,
|Kids in Crisis: Number of babies born to mothers on drugs skyrockets in Louisiana – by Kimberly Curth, FOX8 WVUE,
|Kids in Crisis: What happens after foster care? – by Kimberly Curth, FOX8 WVUE,
|Kids in Crisis: Budget cuts leave DCFS scrambling to protect the most vulnerable – FOX8 WVUE, Kimberly Curth
|NEW LBP REPORT: Fund diversions erode Louisiana’s safety net, leave needy children vulnerable – Louisiana Budget Project
|Louisiana is Putting Children Behind Other Goals – The Advocate, Editorial
|How caring adults save teens in foster care –  Magazine, Jennifer Tormo
|The Jindal effect takes a huge toll at DCFS – FOX8, WVUE, Lee Zurik
|Edwards announces Children and Family Services Committee – KNOE.com
|Thousands of Louisiana children in desperate need of foster parents, state says – The Times-Picayunne, Michelle Hunter