Covering Louisiana

Jul 1, 2013 6:39 PM by AP(PHOTO COURTESY: MGN ONLINE)

Juvenile detention facilities face new licensing

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana's social services department said Monday that all juvenile detention facilities in the state are now licensed and inspected by its agency.

The 15 facilities previously had been required to meet fire marshal and health department regulations. But with the start of July, they also are licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services, adding a new level of safety review.

"Licensing juvenile detention facilities is all about the safety of the children in these facilities," DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier said in a statement. "Before today, Louisiana did not have quality standards for these facilities to meet in order to ensure the well-being of the children in these facilities. We are correcting that."

The licensing requirement was added under a 2010 state law sponsored by former Rep. Damon Baldone, D-Houma. Officials said it took more than two years to devise the standards, followed by training for the facilities.

DCFS licensing standards detail requirements for staff training, child-to-staff ratios, health services, educational programs and visitation policies. The department says each facility will be inspected at least once annually to maintain its license.

Licensing fees range from $400 to $600, depending on occupant numbers.

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