Louisiana’s Foster Care Board Rate Too Low for Decades

April 19, 2021 – Louisiana – Fourteen years ago in 2007, a joint report by Children’s Rights, The National Foster Parent Association, and the University of Maryland School of Social Work stated, “Louisiana’s current foster care rates must be increased by up to 45% in order to cover the real costs of providing care for children.”

Three years ago, in January 2018, a study in the journal, Children and Youth Services Review, titled “Estimating minimum adequate foster care costs for children in the United States,” reported the gap between Louisiana’s foster care board rates and the actual cost of providing care had grown to 72%.

Child welfare is unique among state services because Louisiana requires foster caregivers. Foster caregiving is the essential heart of child welfare work. Louisiana requires a healthy partnership with the families who voluntarily open their homes for children.

Today, with inflation’s constant grind against the purchasing power of Louisiana’s board rate, our state’s ancient foster care board rate is a travesty. Louisiana requires foster caregivers to supplement the state in order to voluntarily care for children.

This fact makes now the time to increase Louisiana’s foster care board rate for reasons of equity and responsibility – and because low board rates damage child welfare systems.

Research provides important support for the positive impact of an adequate foster care board rate.

1. Adequate foster care rates help maintain and grow the desired number of foster homes available for children. Reducing foster caregivers’ financial stress increases the likelihood they will continue as foster caregivers. State foster care systems which provide adequate board rates are better able to maintain a stable supply of active foster caregivers.1,2,3

2. Adequate board rates, combined with training and support services, dramatically increase foster parent retention rates. Also, a decrease in board rates is directly associated with decreased foster parent retention, decline in reported satisfaction, and less focus on meeting children’s needs.4,5,6

Louisiana provides a sound foster care training program through the Louisiana Child Welfare Training Academy. The Louisiana Foster Care Support Organization provides support services directly to foster caregivers.

So, while foster caregivers have access to training and support services, Louisiana’s Legislature must restore the third leg of stability for our state’s foster care services by delivering an adequate foster care board rate.

3. Stability of placement is linked to the foster caregiver’s perception that the board rate is “adequate for the needs of the child.”7

4. From an economic perspective, reducing the financial burden placed on foster caregivers by providing adequate board rates is a cost-effective public expenditure. Because adequate rates help maintain or increase the supply of foster homes, they prevent using strategies such as holding children in hotels or placing them in restrictive settings due to a shortage of foster homes.8

5. When foster caregivers described their board rate as adequate, there was a 45% decrease in the risk of placement disruptions.7

6. Children who receive stable care because of a state’s adequate foster care board rate are more likely to achieve permanency in stable homes.9

While Louisiana has chronically underfunded the foster care board rate, evidence indicates there is never a good time or reason to underfund foster care. Underfunding foster care board rates is always destructive to the well-being of children in foster care.

According to recent testimony by the Louisiana’s Secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services, by regulation DCFS is required to ask the Legislature for an increase in Louisiana’s foster care board rate. Each year, Louisiana’s Legislature has decided not to increase Louisiana foster care board rate.

Increasing Louisiana’s foster care board rate is something only Louisiana’s Legislature can do by appropriating and allocating the funds required. Now is the time to make this right.

Louisiana’s foster caregivers deserve equitable support from the State of Louisiana and a foster care board rate that is adequate to cover the daily living needs of children in foster care.

Rick Wheat
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services, Inc.


1. Doyle, J. (2005). Can’t buy me love? Subsidizing the care of related children. Cambridge, MA: MIT Sloan School of Management and NBER.

2. Doyle, Joseph J. and H. Elizabeth Peters. (2007). The market for foster care: An empirical study of the impact of foster care subsidies. Review of Economics of the Household, Vol. 5, No. 4 (2007): 329-351.

3. Geiger, J. M., Hayes, M. J., & Lietz, C. A. (2013). Should I stay or should I go? A mixed methods study examining the factors influencing foster parents’ decisions to continue or discontinue providing foster care. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(9), 1356–1365.

4. Rindfleisch, N., Bean, G., & Dendy, R. (1998). Why foster parents continue and cease to foster. Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 25(1), 5–24.

5. Colton, M., Roberts, S., & Williams, M. (2008). The recruitment and retention of family foster-carers: An international and cross-cultural analysis. British Journal of Social Work, 38, 865–884.

6. Daniel, E. (2011). Gentle iron will: Foster parents’ perspectives. Children and Youth Services Review, 33(6), 910–917.

7. Pac, J. (2017). The effect of monthly stipend on the placement instability of youths in out-of-home care. Children and Youth Services Review, 72, 111–123.

8. Doyle, J. J., & Peters, H. E. (2007). The market for foster care: An empirical study of the impact of foster care subsidies. Review of Economics of the Household, 5(4), 329–351.

9. DeVooght, K., Child Trends, & Blazey, D. (2013). Family foster care reimbursement rates in the U.S.: A report from a 2012 national survey on family foster care provider classification and rates. Publication #:2013-19. Washington, DC: Child Trends.

10. Ahn, Haksoon & Depanfilis, Diane & Frick, Kevin & Barth, Richard. (2018). Estimating minimum adequate foster care costs for children in the United States. Children and Youth Services Review.

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