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
While the budget debates during the Louisiana Legislature’s first Special Session of 2017 kept child advocates on the edges of their seats, Louisiana’s Representatives and Senators acted at the end to protect funding for foster children. Louisiana’s legislature did the right thing in funding the Department of Children and Family Services.
In a state which sits at the bottom of every child well-being measure, Louisiana’s foster children are at the very bottom. The proper care of foster children should never be placed on the table as a bargaining chip or throwaway in Louisiana’s budget debates.
International aid organization, Save the Children, recently named Louisiana, “the worst state in the U.S. for children”. Louisiana holds a 28-year average rank of 49th in the nation on child well-being. If Louisiana were a nation, we would be ranked 81st in the world on infant mortality behind Serbia and Slovakia, even after Botswana and Sri Lanka.
Given this persistent dark status of Louisiana’s children, that continued funding of Louisiana’s foster care system remains an annual budget item for debate seems like a gross mispriorization of our values. If Louisiana had been appropriately meeting the needs of her children 28 years ago, we would all live in a very different state. Those children from 28 years ago are the young and middle-aged adults to whom we hand Louisiana today.
It is such a simple calculus.
If we want an exceptional workforce in 20 years, we must take care of children today. If we want strong colleges and universities filled with inquisitive students thirsty for knowledge, we must take care of children today. If we want moral leadership that creates an even better future for our state, we must take care of children today. If we want a thriving society in 20 years that builds on its strengths, we must take care of children today. If we want to reduce the costs of medical care in the future, we must take care of children today. If we want peace and prosperity in the future, we must take care of children today.
It really is this simple: Louisiana will thrive tomorrow only to the extent that we care well for our children today.
Thank you, Louisiana Legislature, for funding (for another year) the important work done by the staff of Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services on behalf of Louisiana’s children!
Rick Wheat, President and CEO
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services