Marketa Williams

A 2018 report released by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) listed Livingston Parish at the top of the heap statewide in the total number of children who went into foster care.      

It’s an unflattering statistic that warrants attention locally and statewide. The numbers began a large climb after the August 2016 flood when the record rainfall left thousands homeless.

Many of those eventually found their way back to a sense of normalcy, but others were not so lucky. As DCFS Secretary Markita Walters said, some victims likely turned to drugs and alcohol out of a sense of depression.

It is not that way in every case, but the spike makes sense.

The surge in cases for Livingston Parish, however, does not make sense in correlation to some areas, where it seems obvious that the cases either go unreported or the judges are not as quick to send a child to a foster home.

Such was the case in Orleans Parish, where only 71 cases were reported. It seems implausible that a city of 400,000 and one of the worst crime rates – many of which involve drugs – would have only 71 children enter foster care over the entire year.

The bulk of the cases in Livingston Parish involved drugs, according to the report. It appears from the number of cases that judges who make the final call on foster care have taken a hard stance against parents whose actions endanger their kids.

At the same time, the case load remains heavy for investigators and the number of families who participate in the foster care system has dwindled.

State budget cuts during the Jindal Administration eliminated the number of DCFS staffers to investigate troubled homes. Meanwhile, households with foster children receive only a $15 per day stipend for expenses.

It’s a problem here and through much of the state. It will take community involvement and help from the non-public organizations and faith-based organizations to assist with these children and the troubled family.

It takes a village. 

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