DCFS served 7,868 children in foster care in 2017, with an average of 4,683 children in care each month. At any given time, however, there are only about 2,250 certified foster homes in Louisiana.
"We recruit and certify new foster homes every year, but we always need more. The need is especially critical for families willing and able to take in sibling groups, youth and medically fragile children," said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters.
The new campaign officially realigns the department's foster parent recruitment efforts with the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI), an approach to foster care that DCFS rolled out across the state in 2017. QPI focuses on providing children with quality parenting every day, regardless of where they live, by emphasizing teamwork among foster parents, agency staff and birth parents.
"We have embraced this team approach with our existing foster parents and are emphasizing it in our recruitment efforts, too," Walters said. "The new branding puts that message right out front: This is what we believe. This is what we want for the children in our care. Partner with us to make it happen."
Of the 7,868 children in foster care last year, roughly a third, or 2,559 children, were reunified with their families. Focusing recruitment efforts on foster parents who are willing to work with the birth parents, whenever possible and appropriate, reinforces the department's commitment to strengthening and restoring families.
DCFS foster parent orientation and pre-service classes – required to become a certified foster parent – also have been redesigned in accordance with QPI prinicples. The classes focus on teamwork, clarification of roles, trauma and Trust-Based Relational Intervention, helping foster parents better understand the child's needs and how to work with the biological family.
For more information about becoming a foster parent, or to see schedules for orientation and pre-service classes across the state, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/foster.
For information about ways to support foster children and parents, visit www.LouisianaFosters.la.gov.