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Simple analogies often make obvious what complexity obscures. While speaking to our Board of Directors this week, it struck me that Residential Care in Louisiana is now much like a swimming pool – but one not yet fully constructed.
A good pool has a place for every swimmer. In this analogy, Foster Care is the wading pool, Non-Medical Group Homes are the steps into the shallow end of the main pool, Treatment Group Homes are the shallow end, and Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities are the deep end. That makes for a perfect pool – a place for swimmers of every skill level.
Louisiana has an odd residential care swimming pool right now. We have the wading pool, the steps into the main pool, and a deep end. However, Louisiana’s pool has no shallow end. Until we have Treatment Groups Homes in Louisiana, the drop off from that last step into the water will be a real doozy right into the deep end.
Louisiana reports it needs 275 Treatment Group Home beds. A single Treatment Group Home can house no more than 8 children. Do the math and you see Louisiana needs at least 34 treatment group homes spread across the state.
It is vital that Treatment Group Homes be located across Louisiana because we know the closer a child in out-of-home care is to his or her family, the more likely the family can participate in care. The more a family participates in care, the more likely treatment will be effective.
So today, a year into Louisiana’s Coordinated System of Care, VOA’s Parker House in Baton Rouge is the only Treatment Group Home in Louisiana. Parker House is for girls and boys 13 and under.
Louisiana has to find a way to build a proper pool!
Rick Wheat, President and Chief Executive Officer
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services