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An open letter to Louisiana’s 2015 Gubernatorial Candidates:
On July 21, 2015, The Shreveport Times and Alexandria’s Town Talk both carried articles titled, “Louisiana is at the bottom of another list“. Those titles are not quite right. They should read, “Louisiana’s children are at the bottom of another list“.
It is difficult to believe that for more than a quarter of a century, Louisiana’s children, our children, would have been better off living in any of 48 other states.
Today, after 25 years, we are still near our worst which was back in 1990, when Louisiana ranked 51st in child well-being. That’s right: 51st in the nation. In 1990, Washington, D. C., then at the epicenter of the nation’s crack epidemic, was caring for children better than we were.
After improving to 46th among the states in 2013, Louisiana’s child well-being rank has worsened again during a three year decline from 46th to 48th in 2015. The annual ranking of the states is conducted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Read Louisiana’s 2015 KidsCount Profile. This year’s results are reported in the Annie E. Casey Foundation 2015 Kids Count Data book.
It is unconscionable that such poor conditions have continued for two generations of our children. It must end!
Caring well for our children will require leadership. Until the welfare of our children becomes a visceral, daily priority of our Governor, until our legislature actively commits itself to intentionally improving the well-being of our children, until our leaders in communities throughout this state decide to lead us out of this pit, until each one of us, all of us, care enough to care well for our children, Louisiana’s children will suffer.
It begins with leadership. After 25 years at the bottom, any person running to become Governor of Louisiana must have a plan for leading us out of this inexcusable condition. It is time for our gubernatorial candidates to tell us specifically how they will identify the causes, design corrective action plans, implement those plans, check the results and correct the plans as necessary. Louisiana’s children cannot vote, but they desperately need a Governor who is committed to their well-being!
Do we need ideas? Look to what the top 10 states are doing well. We do not have to reinvent wheels. Caring for children well is not rocket science. 47 states do it better than we do!
Do we need a model? Know this, it will require dogged determination. Create a long-term project focused on child well-being. This will necessarily continue beyond any single Governor’s administration. Need a reward? The Governor who turns this around will become the stuff of political legend.
So I end with an open request. If you are running for Governor, publish your plan for improving Louisiana’s child well-being. Show us how you intend to help us improve the well-being of Louisiana’s children.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services
904 Deville Lane, Ruston, LA 71270