Here, I mostly share the links about children, child welfare, and child well-being that interest me. I hope the material here inspires your thinking about Louisiana’s children and child well-being.
So, take your seat on this proverbial front porch, grab a good cup of coffee or hot tea, and enjoy a conversation in your own mind about the well-being of Louisiana’s children.
But first, you ask, “How can this website inspire my thinking about Louisiana’s children and child well-being?” That’s a good question.
For me, it works like this. When I read about the conditions of children in other places, I ask myself, “on that matter, how are we doing in Louisiana?”
Thinking about Louisiana’s children and child well-being requires focus and is not always a positive experience. But all of us in Louisiana must engage our minds, hearts, intentions, and actions for the well-being of our children. I hope this site hones for you the keen awareness that problems exist or that better ways forward are possible. And sometimes, a news article from elsewhere may pop a moment of relief for you such as, “Wow! I’m glad we do not have that problem!”
In my mind, anytime we are thinking about Louisiana’s children and child well-being and considering ways to improve the well-being of children in Louisiana, we are engaged in good work to improve Louisiana for children now, and consequently, for all of Louisiana in the future.
So, thinking about Louisiana’s children and child well-being …
The Front Porch is where I first share links to news articles, reports, and websites that catch my eye. I know what I think about some of these items. Other links, though, I continue considering. The Inbox is also a place where I begin grouping related items.
Here are links to articles and resources that engage my mind in thinking about Louisiana’s children and child well-being.
When a hospital calls a department of social services, they are making a dependency referral as defined under North Carolina statute 7B-101, explained Sen. Sydney Batch (D-Raleigh), who is a family law attorney and child welfare advocate in her work outside in the state legislature. The hospital is telling social services that a parent or guardian is unable to take care of their child and does not have an alternative child care setting.
The article is about families in North Carolina who do not have the resources or ability to care for children after a psychiatric crisis that required hospitalization because there are insufficient mental health services for children in their home community. Whether from desperation for help or to ensure their children receive the care they require, these families determine public child welfare services, including foster care, are the lesser evil. North Carolina is not alone in this.
It happens in Louisiana, too, and for similar reasons. According to KFF, as of September 30, 2022, North Carolina had 3.9 million citizens living in areas designated as “Health Professional Shortage Areas” and Louisiana was not far behind with 3.6 million citizens in HPSAs.
Guest Columnist Cris Weatherford: No easy answers for DSS and foster system | News | thesylvaherald.com | July 5, 2023. Cris Weatherford is director of the Jackson County Department of Social Services in North Carolina. His thoughts about the small and dependent presence that public child welfare has in the much larger, more complex managed care/political/social/regulatory environment is thought-provoking and worth a read.
Child welfare caseloads grow in Omaha area after troubled private contract ends reports on the aftermath of Nebraska’s ongoing efforts to correct the consequences of its failed efforts at privatization of foster care. Nebraska privatized child welfare, reduced its public services, saw its privatization effort fail, and must now rebuild its public child welfare system.
Interesting resource for individuals interested in foster care services among the states: US Foster Care data from the School of Social Work at Boston University
TX: Editorial: Texas foster care needs money to keep kids safe. Lawmakers have billions. – Houston Chronicle
Why does one of the wealthiest states in the nation, a state with a huge budget surplus to work with, find it almost impossible to take care of these children?
Even sadder than the horrible US rate of mothers who die in childbirth is the fact that “Louisiana has the highest rate of maternal mortality at 58.1 deaths per 100,000 births.” Why US mothers are more likely to die in childbirth – BBC News “The United States remains one of the most dangerous wealthy nations for a woman to give birth. Maternal mortality rose by 40% at the height of the pandemic, according to new data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2021, 33 women died out of every 100,000 live births in the US, up from 23.8 in 2020. That rate was more than double for black women, who were nearly three times more likely to die than white women, according to the CDC.”
Reports of child abuse and neglect drop during summer break. “When summer break starts, calls to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline-1-844-CO-4-KIDS- drop off significantly. This isn’t because the number of children experiencing a bad homelife are declining, but rather students are no longer around mandatory reporters such as teachers.”
Louisiana’s foster care system must not become like Georgia’s: “Between 50 to 70 children in foster care are currently residing in a hotel or a DFCS office with a stranger…” “Last year, the (Georgia) DFCS spent $28 million alone on hoteling foster children.” Critics say bills to slow influx of foster children in Georgia ignore root causes | Courthouse News Service
Georgia Medicaid management companies deny mental health services for thousands of children: Georgia Medicaid insurer denied psychotherapy for thousands | Miami Herald
This article presents Texas’ experience in privatizing foster care as a mixed bag: Nonprofit network to take over foster care in Dallas, Collin, 7 other counties.
Also from Texas, Bunking Texas foster kids in CPS offices may have ended, but bed shortage persists, describes the ongoing problem of CWOPs: “Children Without Placements”
“UNC study: States that expanded access to food benefits saw decreases in child neglect, abuse cases. “When families are not overloaded by economic stress, they’re less likely to be known to the child welfare system,” said Sharon Hirsch, from Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina. Access to food benefits may reduce rates of child neglect, abuse
Texas lawmakers considering boosting long foster care privatization effort with another $228.1 million to get slow project moving: Lawmakers weigh funding boost for rollout of privatized foster care
“The American Bar Association can show its disapproval of Louisiana sending children to Angola prison by not doing business in the state, a panelist told the lawyers’ organization Thursday afternoon.”
Calls grow for Louisiana to stop sending kids to adult prison | Courthouse News Service
Managed Care for Medicaid Behavioral Health may save states money, but children in foster care are paying the price.
Unmet needs: Critics cite failures in health care for foster children
After reading a book review by Angela Hegarty on the website of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, I am eager to find time to read The Managed Health Care Industry—A Market Failure: How Healthcare Turned into Wealthcare for Big Insurers and Managed Care Companies by Jack Charles Schoenholtz, MD. In these two sentences, Hegarty explains so much:
By 2003, the Supreme Court held that health insurance plan administrators under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1973 (ERISA) are not required to accord special deference to the opinions of the treating physician and are under no obligation to explain their reasoning if they deny the recommended treatment. Schoenholtz describes how the opinions of anonymous, invisible doctors, working for health insurance corporations, who never actually see the patients, have been afforded ever increasing weight in medical treatment decisions.
Read more news stories about children to inspire your thinking about Louisiana’s children and child well-being.
More to Explore
Child Poverty Rates and States’ Minimum Wages
This is important news, but first to set the stage, the U.S. national child poverty rate was 16.9% in 2021 (4.2 percentage points higher than than national poverty rate for all citizens. Children always endure more poverty than adults.). Louisiana, on the other hand, had a child poverty rate of 26.9%. More than 1 in 4 Louisiana children live in poverty. See U.S. Poverty Rate Is 12.8% but Varies Significantly by Age Groups.
It makes sense that poverty rates would be highest in states with the lowest minimum wages, and the research makes the point.
Raising the minimum wage would not lead to as fast or drastic an improvement, but a 2019 Congressional Budget Office analysis found that increasing the amount to $15 an hour would lift more than 500,000 children from poverty. And the Economic Policy Institute estimated in 2021 that if Congress passed a $15 minimum wage increase by 2025, up to 3.7 million people wouldn’t have to live in poverty — 1.3 million of those being children.
Of course, Louisiana always gets my attention. Our state is among the nine states that have not raised the minimum wage above the federal bottom of $7.25/hour. 24/7 Wall Street, a financial news site, reports that each of the nine states which default to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 has child poverty rates of 20% or higher.
An Illinois school for students with disabilities has routinely used the police to handle discipline, resulting in the highest arrest rate of any district in the country. In one recent year, half of Garrison School students were arrested.
Family First Prevention Services Act (“FFPSA”)
The Status of FFPSA Among the U.S. States, Tribal Nations, and Territories
First, this commentary from “The Hill”:
The Children’s Bureau provides a directory of the “title IV-E prevention program five-year plans”, (aka, “Family First Prevention Services Plans”) submissions and their approval status. What I like about the directory is that the list includes links to the approved plans, making this a gold mine for child welfare information junkies.
This is a better resource than one might expect: Status of Submitted Title IV-E Prevention Program Five-Year Plans.
The National Conference of State Legislatures (“NCSL”) shares a U.S. map showing the status of the states’ prevention planning. Family First State Plans and Enacted Legislation.
The NCSL also provides access to a searchable database of Child Welfare Enacted Legislation. It is helpful to see what state legislatures are doing around the country for children in their states.
Resources for Kinship Caregivers by Fostering Families Today.
Child Welfare System Deficiencies