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Wendy’s is once again offering their $2 keychain, which translates into a free Jr. Frosty for the entirety of 2019 with a purchase of any value (must make a purchase every time chain is used.) The benefit? 85% of each $2 keychain sale goes to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, which works every year to find homes for kids.

That’s a huge benefit to many places, but its especially important in Livingston Parish.

The Parish has two groups which focus on adoption, foster care, and legal representation for kids who have gone through trauma, witnessed a crime, or been separated from their families for other reasons. Child Advocacy Services (CAS) has had an office in Denham Springs for twenty years where they provide advocates for foster and adoptive children in court, as well as a safe space for those children to help navigate the difficult world of foster care.

According to CASA records, Livingston Parish leads the categories of both child separation from families as well as adoption. Rob Carlisle, CEO of CAS, spoke with Kiwanis this past spring about their mission and ‘Child Awareness Month,’ which is April. According to Carlisle, the numbers are hard to wrap around for Livingston Parish.

There are roughly 115 children in the legal system seeking a home in Livingston Parish as of June 2018, he said, with an almost equal number of children without representation. According to the Division of Family and Child Services, over 400 children are in foster care in Livingston.

Through the Foster Village, LeJeune and Landry also hope to raise general awareness of foster care and adoption, especially since Livingston Parish is part of the region with the state’s highest number of foster children.

Livingston Parish is under the umbrella of Region 3 of Louisiana (Covington), which also serves the St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.

According to information provided by LeJeune and Landry, there were 853 open foster care cases in the Covington region as of March 2 — roughly 19 percent of the state’s total open cases (4,460) and 273 more than the second-highest region (Shreveport, 579).

In Walker, a friendship created through mutual interests turned into a vision come true. The Foster Village at 32740 Walker North Road, started by Amy LeJeune and Shayna Landry, partnered with Judson Baptist Church (also of Walker) to help provide foster families with gently used or new items and necessities to help them care for their new children.

Through the Foster Village, LeJeune and Landry also hope to raise general awareness of foster care and adoption, especially since Livingston Parish is part of the region with the state’s highest number of foster children.

Livingston Parish is under the umbrella of Region 3 of Louisiana (Covington), which also serves the St. Helena, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes.

According to information provided by LeJeune and Landry, there were 853 open foster care cases in the Covington region as of March 2 — roughly 19 percent of the state’s total open cases (4,460) and 273 more than the second-highest region (Shreveport, 579).

“These kids are not only losing their homes and parents, they’re losing their siblings because they’re having to be split up,” LeJeune said. “They’re losing their schools and everything they know. We’re in absolute desperate need for foster homes.”

Other troubles befall foster children apart from the obvious ones, LeJeune and Landry have repeatedly told people when making presentations. Some of the statistics they shared include:

  • One in three foster children can’t read at their grade level
  • 43 percent don’t graduate from high school or obtain a G.E.D.
  • More than half are unemployed within three years of leaving foster care
  • 30 percent of boys will be arrested by their 19th birthday
  • Girls are 2.5 times as likely to get pregnant by 19
  • Foster kids experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at twice the rate of U.S. military veterans

Ways to donate to the Foster Village include:

  • Offer to have a TFV donation bin at your business
  • Donate pre-packed welcome & diaper bags
  • Tax deductible monetary donations can be processed through Judson Baptist church and assigned to “The Foster Village”
  • Make blankets for children
  • Donate labor (painting, carpentry and handyman skills needed) and time (sorting, cleaning, organizing)
  • Raise awareness of the need for more foster parents
  • Visit “The Foster Village” Facebook page

Both the Foster Village and CASA are in need of foster homes, volunteers, and supplies. But, even if you cannot help these entities with those benefits, a quick trip to Wendy’s and a $2 investment earns you a sweet treat for 2019 and $1.70 goes to help a child in need of a home. After the flood, the Denham Springs Wendy’s location shut down, but there is one open in Walker at 28220 Walker South Road, Walker, LA 70785. Key chains can be purchased through January 31, 2019.

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