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Louisiana Seeks Better Temporary Parents

Louisiana Foster and Adoptive Parent Association

Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services is taking a new approach to foster care.

“It’s recruiting people that really, truly want to parent these children, and co-parent with their birth parents,” DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters explains.

She brought caregivers and social workers together this week in Baton Rouge to launch the Quality Parenting Initiative. QPI co-creator Carol Shauffer says it’s about shifting emphasis from quantity to quality.

“Always it’s the number – ‘well, we need 82 more beds’,” Shauffer said. “What this project is saying is we don’t really need more beds. We need more people who can provide excellent care to our kids. And if the choice is between having excellent and numbers, we should always go with excellent.”

Part of achieving “excellent”, Shauffer said, is recognizing foster parents are much more than merely round-the-clock babysitters.

“The people who are doing the caring are the people who are making the biggest difference in children’s lives,” she explained. “We’re going to recognize that caregivers and social workers are professional partners in healing children and families.”

Shauffer added that requires case managers and the judicial system to consult with foster parents about what children in their care truly need: “Making sure we do everything in our power as a system to be sure that every child can have excellent, developmentally-informed parenting every day.”

Secretary Walters acknowledges this means becoming more selective in approving foster homes.

“That takes a real special person that’s willing to have a child in their home -- hold them, parent them, love them, treat them as their own -- and then give them up.”