By Edie DeVilbiss
It’s time for back to school! New clothes, new backpacks, pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, and the smell of a brand-new box of crayons! Heaven!
What if you’re a foster parent? Surely the money that you receive from the government covers the extra expenses. Not likely.
Louisiana has over 4,000 youth in foster care. The families who choose to foster youth likely don’t do it for money. The stipend they receive is not a windfall. It costs more to board a dog in a kennel than we pay for twenty -four- hour care of a child. A shortage of qualified foster care homes is an ongoing challenge for the Department of Child and Family Services. Children have had to sleep in DCFS offices because there was no placement available for them.
How can the state resolve this issue? I mean, we are creative people who love the children in our state, right? This is a challenge worth meeting.
We can conceptualize this from two angles. Take fewer children into care or find ways to compensate families for their service.
There are families who are not adequately caring for children for numerous reasons. The state does not remove children without cause. Abuse and neglect are serious issues which must be addressed. What if our state shifted resources to support families in a way that made removal unnecessary? Can we keep children safe, nourished, and cared for in the residence with their parents?
Underemployment, high housing costs, incarcerated fathers, addictions, and other health issues each play a role in the deterioration of family systems. Addressing these issues in a comprehensive and effective manner would impact the need for foster homes.
Invest the money necessary to keep from draining the finances of people who are willing to be a foster parent. Examine the true financial costs and compensate appropriately. Encourage partnerships with community resources: churches, civic groups, and individuals can provide support beyond finances.
Young people will grow into citizens. We all have a vested interest in growing a
healthy next generation across the board.
Let’s turn our minds and wills toward this valuable goal.
 Dog kennels charge $25 – $30 per day. For 4000 children in 365 day foster care, a rate of $25 is over $36 million. :