LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) announced Friday that it finalized 17 adoptions in March in the Lake Charles region, the second highest number of finalized adoptions in one month in that region in more than four years.
Officials said the extraordinary number of adoptions in March came the same month DCFS announced its "Faith in Families" child welfare initiative, which strives to reduce the amount of time children spend in DCFS' care, either through reuniting children with families or through adoption.
Lake Charles usually averages five to six finalized adoptions per month, according to officials.
"We know that children deserve safe, loving and permanent homes, like the adoptive homes these children have found," said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "Our new Faith in Families initiative strives to create these permanent homes, either through reunification or adoption, within two years of the child entering our care."
Officials said the 17 adoptions for March in Lake Charles consist of four adoptions of a two-sibling group, one three-sibling adoption, and six single-child adoptions. Three of the children were adopted less than five months after becoming eligible for adoption.
Timelines to adoption can vary. Officials said families who wish to adopt a child who is in DCFS custody must first be certified to foster and adopt. After certification, the child must live in the home for six months before the adoption petition can be filed. In some cases, the children already live with the foster families that wish to adopt them when they become available for adoption. In that case, the children have a shorter path to finalization, usually three to six months.
Last year, DCFS saw a record number of children, 652 in total, adopted by 468 families. Today, there are 638 children who are immediately eligible for adoption. About 80 of those children eligible for adoption are in the Lake Charles region.
"I would like to recognize the hard work of DCFS' Lake Charles region adoption workers and DCFS' adoption workers statewide," Sonnier said. "Their commitment to these children and finding them a lifelong connection to family is a true reflection of what DCFS is all about."
The DCFS website features profiles of children in DCFS' care who are available for adoption, information for prospective adoptive parents, including guides to determine if families are ready to open their home to a child and instructions on how to start the adoption process. That information can be found at www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/adoption.
More information about the Faith in Families initiative can be found at www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/FaithinFamilies.