How the pandemic impacted Louisiana’s foster care system

A recent study showed 23,000 fewer children left foster care in 2020 compared to 2019, but how...
A recent study showed 23,000 fewer children left foster care in 2020 compared to 2019, but how do those number fair in Baton Rouge?(DCFS)
Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 6:13 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The nation’s foster care system took a huge hit because of the pandemic.

A recent study showed 23,000 fewer children left foster care in 2020 compared to 2019, but how do those number fair in Baton Rouge?

According to the Department of Children and Family Services, there are 250 kids in the Capital Area waiting to go to that perfect home.

For Baton Rouge native and foster mother Marian Randolph, she says her decision to open-up her home was something she never expected.

“I just have that compassion for children, and every time I say I’m going to stop doing it, for some reason I get bored, and I give back,” said Randolph.

Over the past 35 years, Randolph has fostered over one hundred kids. However, when the pandemic hit, she started to have second thoughts.

“Well initially, when I was called for a child that was coming into the system because of COVID, I was really afraid to take that child in,” said Randolph.

Her fear of catching COVID was felt in foster homes across the country.

Officials say that number isn’t too far off from what they expected, but the problem now is getting more people to step up and provide a safe home for those kids in the meantime. ”Fortunately, we have not lost a great deal of foster parents, but now the challenge is adding to that pool of foster parents,” said Mona Michelli from DCFS.

Michelli says they had to make a lot of changes and had to do it quick.

She says they conducted a lot of their training, visitations, and other procedures virtually. Even with those challenges, more than 750 foster kids were adopted during the pandemic.

Randolph says knowing she helped change the lives of countless of kids makes it all worth it. That’s why she believes nothing, not even COVID, should stand in the way of someone becoming a foster parent.

“They just need to step out on faith and put God in it. Because God is leading me with these kids. Leading me to the directions they need to go. They’re a blessing more to me than I am to them. They might not know it, but they’re very much a blessing to my life,” said Randolph.

Here are some of the qualifications to become a foster parent in Louisiana:

  • At least 21 years of age
  • Single, married, divorced, or widowed
  • Financially stable (able to meet own family’s needs)
  • Good physical, emotional and mental health
  • Adequate space in home for additional child
  • Pass state and federal criminal clearances
  • Attend 21 hours of pre-service training
  • Participate in home study process

For more information, you can visit dcfs.louisiana.gov.

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