Data makes it clear that the number of Louisiana children in foster care is increasing. Louisiana does not have enough foster homes available to handle what lies ahead.
Each month, the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services updates a statistical block on its website titled “DCFS By the Numbers.” At any point, the numbers indicate only the latest reporting period. Without the perspective of time, it is impossible to know whether this month’s numbers are better or worse, larger or smaller, than any time in the past.
DCFS is faithful to report this data each month. I have recorded the monthly numbers since 2010 and charted them to identify trends. The last few years have presented an interesting pattern. I understand some dynamics that created a wide “V” pattern, but some I do not.
The period of the COVID-19 pandemic is at the right end of the chart, highlighted in gray. The “V” in this period makes sense. Schools closed due to the pandemic. However, I cannot account for the steady decline that began a year before the pandemic.
The chart gives one every reason to believe the number of Louisiana children in foster care will continue to increase. Children are in schools where they are seen, substance use is rising, and DCFS is successfully staffing up to fill vacancies.
Already, Louisiana has too few foster homes available for children. Consequently, some children are spending nights in DCFS offices. The number of foster homes must increase faster than the number of children in foster care.