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On the Well-being of Louisiana’s Children

Big Ideas

The links and resources I share have grabbed my attention from a variety of sources. Here, you will find links to the news stories, research findings, reports, and other information about Louisiana’s children, our child well-being infrastructure, and what other states are doing – often more effectively – to improve the well-being of children and the systems designed for their support and care.

Engage your thoughts on the well-being of Louisiana’s Children.


From Louisiana news …

2024-02-02: Louisiana Inspector general finishes Ware Youth Center abuse investigation, report not complete reports Julie O’Donoghue in Louisiana Illuminator


From across the web …

2024-02-17: NC regulators shut down Trails Carolina camp after 12-year-old boy dies | WFAE 90.7 – Charlotte’s NPR News Source

2024-02-05: Oklahoma sends a growing number of kids with complex needs out of state for treatment

2024-02-02: Mitchell Chapman: An AI matching program’s rough rollout offers hard lessons on adoption system’s challenges and techno-optimism | Columnists | berkshireeagle.com

2024-01-04Gov. Kotek announces $25 million partnership with coordinated care organizations  – Oregon Capital Chronicle

2024-01-04: Oregon’s Medicaid insurers will redirect $25M in profits to youth mental health needs.

2024-01-04: Oregon CCOs commit $25M for behavioral health beds | kgw.com

2023-12-27: South Carolina’s Parental Rights Overhaul: Navigating the New Landscape | LocalePlanet Press | NewsBreak Original

2023-12-22: How Texas’ mental health vision fell apart | The Texas Tribune


Hot Topic: Two Louisiana Governors Refuse Participation in Child Hunger Program

2024-02-14 – UPDATE: Tomorrow, February 15, is the deadline for Louisiana to participate in the USDA’s Summer EBT program. So far, Governor Landry has refused to enroll Louisiana. In rejecting Summer EBT, Louisiana presents a false choice about helping nearly 600,000 impoverished #LouisianaChildren.

Consider this: someday, a new gas station is coming to your town. Today, your gas tank is empty. Clearly, your current needs and the future gas station are unrelated. You need gas today.

Governor Landry’s administration can truthfully say, “Families deserve a pathway to self-sufficiency” because creating pathways for families is a good goal for any Louisiana governor. No one can disagree. Our state’s incomplete child well-being infrastructure offers too few paths to self-sufficiency.

But consider this: creating future pathways to self-sufficiency is unrelated to Summer EBT funds for Louisiana’s hungry children.

2024-02-01 – UPDATE: Louisiana, with the nation’s second highest child poverty rate, informed the USDA today that Louisiana is not participating in the Summer EBT program to feed impoverished children. The first deadline passed on December 31 during the Edwards administration.

2024-01-14: Unlike Louisiana’s 50-year, $50 billion plan to protect our soil, our state has no long-term plan to ensure the well-being of our children. Our state’s fragile child well-being infrastructure is largely dependent upon the wishes of each new gubernatorial administration. Rather than committing to long-term, comprehensive child well-being plans and principles that transcend four-year increments, Louisiana is tied to short-term thinking.

For example, instead of a determined and standard commitment to access all the resources available to protect our children from hunger, Louisiana’s decision to participate in the USDA’s FNS Summer EBT program is delayed. Summer EBT would secure food for nearly 600,000 children in a state that arm wrestles Mississippi for the title of Child Poverty Central. Instead, Louisiana’s state agencies delay for political reasons.

A spokesperson confirmed Friday the Louisiana Department of Education late last year chose not to enroll in the program because it involved a significant commitment of resources just before a new governor and legislature would take office.

“LDOE considered it improper to commit Governor Landry and a new legislature to millions of dollars in increased spending toward a new government program,” department spokesman Ted Beasley wrote in a statement to the Illuminator.

https://lailluminator.com/2024/01/12/food-children/

Louisiana, should concerns about one elected official’s opinion prevent us from caring for our children? Should we not have bigger plans for our children? Is it possible to create a 50-year plan to protect our kids?


So, about Making Life Better for Louisiana’s Children …

Here is where I share links to recent news articles, reports, and websites that have caught my eye. These stories are about the experiences of Louisiana’s children and our opportunities to make life better for our children.

Also, I share what I see other states are doing to improve life for their children. We can learn and with more than three decades of averaging 49th in the nation for child well-being, we have a lot to learn! As Louis Brandeis wrote, the states “are the laboratories of democracy,” and “a state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

Perhaps, the first thing to consider is why Louisiana ignores the wake-up calls of her childrenLouisiana Ignores the Wake-up Calls of her children.


Here are links to articles and resources that engage my mind and inform my thoughts about the well-being of Louisiana’s children.

2024-01-07: Lydia Kiesling’s fascinating report explains why kids are worse off in America than in any other rich country. It’s by design: “Why America Hates Its Children” is available in Business Insider.

2023-11-16: News out of Kentucky reports that children in foster care will spend Thanksgiving and Christmas nights sleeping on cots in state offices. – Kentucky facing Foster Care crisis, children sleeping in government offices

2023-11-06: Another “AI for Child Welfare” Failure: Inspired by online dating, AI tool for adoption matchmaking falls short for vulnerable foster kids | AP News


2023-07-31: Clancy DuBos: Make lawmakers account for kids being at risk | Opinions and Editorials | nola.com


2023/07/10: Lack of mental health treatment resources can land children in NC’s troubled child welfare system | WFAE 90.7 – Charlotte’s NPR News Source

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.

One Chance to be a Child | Nova Scotia

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

Settlement reached in death of boy housed at Louisville foster care facility – wdrb.com

Louisiana family adopts children through DCFS | Louisiana Inspired | nola.com


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


Advocates welcome proposal to ease rules on kinship foster care | Courthouse News Service


Foster teen’s violent attack of Washington social worker highlights lack of safety solutions | king5.com


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


Adolescence is a ‘use it or lose it’ time for moral development | Psyche Ideas


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


Neglect as poverty: the myth that won’t go away – Child Welfare Monitor


19,000 Louisiana schoolkids missing from K-12 schools | Education | theadvocate.com


Nearly a fifth of Louisiana children live in food insecure households


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

Foster Care Was Always Tough. Covid-19 Made It Tougher. – The New York Times

Temporary child-welfare placements target non-white children disproportionately

In child welfare cases, most of your constitutional rights don’t apply – Louisiana Illuminator

Homicides set to top fatal injuries in Louisiana children

Accusations of ‘warehousing’ NC foster children – NC Health News

North Carolina DHHS accused of neglecting foster care children with disabilities | WFAE 90.7 – Charlotte’s NPR News Source


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.

Child poverty rates highest in states that haven’t raised minimum wage – Maryland Matters

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.


Education

This School Calls the Police on Students Every Other Day — ProPublica

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”:

Five Years On the Family First Act has Failed in its Aims

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.


Kinship Care

Can ‘Kinship Care’ Help the Child Welfare System? The White House Wants to Try.

Resources for Kinship Caregivers by Fostering Families Today.


Child Welfare System Deficiencies

Is the Foster Care System Worth Fostering? | The Regulatory Review

The “Benevolent Terror” of the Child Welfare System | The Boston Review

In Six Months or Less, Some Parents Lose Their Kids Forever | ProPublica


State-Specific Information

Alabama

DOJ says Alabama’s foster care system discriminates against children with disabilities


Alaska

Justice Department Finds Alaska Unnecessarily Segregates Children with Behavioral Health Disabilities in Institutions | OPA | Department of Justice


Georgia

Georgia paid $28 million to keep foster kids in hotels last year – WSB-TV Channel 2 – Atlanta – 02/02/2023

Georgia’s low payments rates, shortage of safety-net beds leave kids waiting for mental health care


Kansas

3/31/2023 – Report: Kansas foster care placement instability driven by older youths with high levels of need – Kansas Reflector


Maine

Commentary: Maine is an outlier for youth psychiatric treatment – Portland Press Herald


South Carolina

Dept. of Juvenile Justice Acting Director Eden Hendrick Requests $20 Million for State-Operated Mental Health Facility | Department of Children’s Advocacy

For years, SC has been unlawfully locking up mentally ill youth. Now it wants to stop

ICYMI: