We are not where we could be, but after 14 years without an increase in the daily board rate for foster care, Louisiana’s support of foster caregivers improved this week. Louisiana increases the foster care board rate for first time since 2007
For the first time in more than a decade, Louisiana’s foster caregivers will receive an increase in the monthly board rate that provides financial support for the care of children and youth in the State’s custody. The additional state funding will allow for an increase of about 25% in the board rates paid to caregivers, raising the average daily rate from $15.20 to $19.
At $15.40 per day, the allowance for daily living costs has not increased, even to account for the grind of inflation, in more than a decade. Each year, Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services is required by state law to ask the Legislature to increase the Foster Care Board Rate. Each year Louisiana’s Legislature ignores the request.
Louisiana’s published rate for Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility (“PRTF”) services, the most intensive residential treatment available for children in our state, was first conjured and contrived in 2011. The rate was intentionally set lower than the projected cost of care and included a funding trick that took back from caregivers half of the difference between the state’s PRTF per diem rate (which was established arbitrarily by averaging four other states’ rates even before Louisiana’s staffing ratio was determined) and a provider’s real cost during their first year of operation. Louisiana has not increased the PRTF per diem in ten years. At the time, LDH Administration said, “Nonprofits will have to bring more to the table.”
Louisiana is currently working to set the initial per diem rate for the new Qualified Residential Treatment Facility (“QRTP”) services DCFS will seek to contract for with group homes to begin later this year. For guidance on a maximum QRTP rate, DCFS is looking at Louisiana’s PRTF rate, a ten-year-old rate that underfunded costs of care in 2011. Today, the average QRTP rate in other states is greater than the average PRTF rate in Louisiana. (PRTF is a significantly more intensive level of care than QRTP.)
Today, Louisiana’s support of the individuals and organizations who care for children in the custody of our State is ten years old. When it comes to child well-being, Louisiana lives in the past. Consequently, Louisiana misses opportunities today to improve the lives of our children and the condition of our state in the future.