- June 2008
- Vol. 9, No. 5
Louisiana was only partially through its Program Improvement Plan (PIP) period in the fall of 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the State. A renegotiated PIP was approved by the Administration for Children and Families in June 2006, giving Louisiana additional time to meet its child welfare goals and address the new short-term recovery needs brought about by the hurricanes. Out of the tragedy, Louisiana's Department of Social Services Office of Community Services (OCS) was able to institute large-scale changes that addressed both short-term needs and long-term reform.
Following the hurricanes, OCS focused on strengthening families and ensuring permanency and safety for children by establishing a series of child welfare initiatives through a program known as Louisiana LIFTS (Leading Innovations for Family Transformation and Safety). With assistance from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Children's Bureau National Resource Centers, Louisiana LIFTS was implemented to redesign key elements in the State child welfare system by:
- Improving intake decisions through uniform assessment and decision-making criteria
- Meeting family needs by focusing on keeping families together in safe environments, using family-centered evaluations, and piloting an alternative response program
- Implementing community-based services by working with prevention-oriented community partners
- Supporting foster and adoptive placements by offering placement options in the community and by hiring regional recruiters
- Evaluating the current decision-making process around residential treatment
- Providing better opportunities for youth transitioning out of care, including help with family finding and with vocational, housing, and educational needs
An outgrowth of the last goal was the newly created Louisiana Youth Leadership Advisory Council (LYLAC), which provides a platform for older foster youth to give a "youth voice" to the foster care system. LYLAC was established with help from the National Resource Center for Youth Development. One of LYLAC's missions is to establish a speaker's bureau of qualified youth who will make presentations and trainings to other youth, resource families, workers, and the public.
Louisiana LIFTS was the subject of a recent article in the National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice and Permanency Planning's (NRCFCPPP) winter 2008 Permanency Planning Today. The issue includes an interview by the Executive Director, Gerald P. Mallon, with the Assistant Secretary for OCS, Marketa Gautreau. The interview focuses on the youth permanency efforts of Louisiana LIFTS, including the technical assistance provided by the NRCFCPPP and the systems changes occurring within Louisiana's child welfare system.
A final note: In December 2007, the Governor of Louisiana received a letter from the Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families congratulating the Governor on the State's successful completion of the Louisiana PIP and noting the importance of the Louisiana LIFTS program in improving the State's child welfare system.
To read more about Louisiana LIFTS, visit these resources:
Louisiana Factsheet on LIFTS:
www.dss.state.la.us/Documents/DSS/LIFTSfactsheetEDITED.pdf (36 - KB)
"Lifting Louisiana and Moving Forward" by Bruce Daniels, AAICAMA Compact Administrator for Louisiana:
http://aaicama.aphsa.org/lifting.pdf (96 - KB)
"Louisiana Youth Leadership Advisory Council Aids Foster Youth" press release:
Permanency Planning Today (Winter 2008):
www.hunter.cuny.edu/socwork/nrcfcpp/downloads/newsletter/ppt-winter-2008.pdf (2,954 - KB)