The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is one of 12 recipients being recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for its work to increase the number of foster children placed in permanent homes.
The award letter says HHS is recognizing DCFS for "the extraordinary contributions made supporting positive permanency outcomes for children in foster care."
Since 2016, Louisiana has transformed its approach to foster care and adoption with the Quality Parenting Initiative, Louisiana Fosters, and national partnerships with the Dave Thomas Foundation, Casey Family Programs, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Youth Villages, and the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development.
The changes have improved relationships among DCFS, foster caregivers, and parents. They have also increased support systems for caregivers and children, built new partnerships, and gained the commitment of stakeholders at every level.
The work has contributed to three consecutive years of record-breaking adoption numbers, with DCFS staff finding permanent homes for more than 2,400 foster children in that time period. The department achieved another milestone this year when it launched an extended foster care program for youth ages 18-21.
"I'm incredibly proud of DCFS and their many partners for this recognition and for the innovative and compassionate ways in which they are providing resources and support for our foster children and parents," said Gov. Edwards. "We have had a record number of adoptions in the last three years, been able to keep more siblings together and reunite the majority of children with their birth families or relatives. By working with a wide spectrum of advocates, we have been able to bring about significant changes to the foster care system and mobilize efforts at every level and in every region of the state to build better lives for our children."
"I'm so proud of our child welfare staff that has worked so hard to make so many great things happen for kids," said DCFS Secretary Marketa Garner Walters. "I'm glad their hard work has been recognized."
Recipients will be honored at a Children's Bureau Celebration of National Adoption Month in November in Washington, D.C.
HHS established the Adoption Excellence Awards program in 1997 to recognize outstanding accomplishments in achieving permanency for America's children waiting in foster care. The awards honor states, child welfare agencies, organizations, courts, businesses, individuals and families. To learn more about the program and to see a complete list of former awardees, click here.
The list of 2019 award winners will be posted in November. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services won the award once before, in 2015.