The following open letter to Louisiana’s Governor and Legislature relates the root cause of DCFS’s current condition to Louisiana’s long… Read More
Dec 19, 2017 – Ruston – I woke up curious. This morning I called the two kennels in my town and I asked what they are paid to board dogs. One kennel charges $24 per night and the other charges $28 per night. The average kennel in my town is paid $26.00 per night.
On average, Louisiana’s foster parents are paid significantly less – only $15.20 per night.
While our hearts and minds tell us that our children are more precious than our pets, we Louisianans have not acted in accord with our hearts for more than a decade. I know we are better than this and if we all know the facts, we can ask our leaders to correct this.
On July 31, 2017, there were 1,730 Louisiana children living in kinship care. Kinship care is foster care provided by a relative. In addition, there were 1,945 children living in non-relative foster homes for a total of 3,675 children living in some form of non-therapeutic foster care.
You may not know this, but 10 years have passed since Louisiana’s foster families received a rate increase to cover the costs of caring for a child. Louisiana pays foster families an average of $15.20 per day, just as it did in 2007.
Not only is Louisiana’s foster care payment only 58% of my “small town” dog boarding fee, but during the last decade inflation has effectively cut the value of Louisiana’s ancient payments to foster families by just over $100 per month due to increased costs of living. This loss to inflation occurred because Louisiana has no mechanism for adjusting foster care payments to ensure they keep pace with inflation.
In 2012, Child Trends published, “Family Foster Care Reimbursement Rates in the U.S.: A Report from a 2012 National Survey on Family Foster Care Provider Classifications and Rates”. The study reports that in 2011 the daily cost of caring for a 0-2 year old in Louisiana was $21.19. Louisiana’s foster care per diem for a 0-2 year old in 2012 was $14.91, a daily shortfall of $6.28 and a burden of $188.40 per month for foster parents.
Clearly, it is not a profit motive that drives Louisiana’s foster parents to care for children. Becoming a foster parent in Louisiana requires a far more noble heart.
The Child Trends report breaks out the daily costs and foster care per diems by age groups. At no age does Louisiana cover the documented costs of caring for a child in foster care. Sadly, at no age is Louisiana spending enough per night to board a dog.
Please do not get me wrong. I love dogs! If I ever need a kennel, I want Maggie, my faithful chocolate Lab, to receive exceptional care.
On the other hand, like you, I believe every child is more precious than any dog. I am certain the facts I have provided demonstrate Louisiana is investing far too little in foster homes for children who cannot live with their parents for reasons of abuse or neglect.
Louisiana, I believe we can do better by our children! If this information bothers you enough that you want to help make it right, your next step is simple: tell your legislators you want Louisiana’s children in foster care to be considered as precious as our pets.
Find your legislators at: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/FindMyLegislators.aspx
Please do not be shy about this! Our children have no political voice. Our children need the adults who care about them to speak up for them.
Legislators long to know what their constituents desire. The reason is simple: they know voters are more likely to reelect those legislators who make them happy. Contact your legislators and let them know you would be happier if Louisiana did right by her children, especially those who must live in foster care.
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services
“Family Foster Care Reimbursement Rates in the U.S.: A Report from a 2012 National Survey on Family Foster Care Provider Classifications and Rates”. DeVooght, K. and Blazey, D. (2017). Childtrends.org. Available at: https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Foster-Care-Payment-Rate-Report.pdf [Accessed 19 Dec. 2017].