Recently, Andrea Gallo, writing for The Advocate, asked a most important question about Louisiana’s Child Welfare System: Louisiana is flush with cash. Why is child welfare still ‘woefully underfunded’?
This is a question that must be answered by the Governor and Legislature. We understand that how an individual spends money speaks loudly about their character. The same is true for states.
Louisiana’s children and families have a right to a complete answer. The unavoidable truth is that Louisiana requires a robust Department of Children and Family Services.
It is important that Louisiana’s Governor, Legislature, and DCFS Administration correctly allocate resources to protect Louisiana’s children. When a state neglects its public child welfare agency, children suffer.
When states fail children long enough, there are sufficient examples of the Federal government intervening to correct systemic failures.
By not prioritizing child welfare, governors and legislatures create weak systems that cannot respond quickly to assaults on children. The status of Louisiana’s child welfare system offers examples:
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.
We live in a state with sufficient resources to support a robust Department of Children and Family Services. The answer to the question, Why is child welfare still ‘woefully underfunded’?, will be found in how Louisiana prioritizes the needs of our most vulnerable children.