SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - 450 children: that is how many are in foster care today, just in Southwest Louisiana.
"Children that have been abused and or neglected, which warrants an investigation and depending on the severity of abuse, then it would warrant the children coming into state custody through the foster care system," said Stephanie Duplechain, child welfare supervisor for the Department of Children and Family Services-Lake Charles region.
Duplechain says there is a constant need for more certified, open homes in this area.
"Our homes are really at capacity, with almost 500 children in foster care and less than 250 homes certified in the Lake Charles region," she said.
With many homes at capacity, Duplechain says some children have had to be moved far away from the area they have called home.
"If we don't have a home within the Lake Charles region, then we have to contact our regional placement specialist for therapeutic foster homes and sometimes it is out of the region, as far as Shreveport, Ruston, New Orleans," said Duplechain.
The process of becoming a foster parent starts with orientation, then pre-service training, fingerprinting, home study, and references.
The certification is dual for foster care and adoption through foster care.
Duplechain says it takes a couple of months to complete it all, but that time prepares you for your first placement.
"We need people who can open their home and their hearts to children that have been through some pretty scary circumstances," she said, "children that have been abused, families who are willing to commit to the assessment and home study process and the training."
Just this year, the state launched a new quality parenting initiative, pushing caregivers to have a more active role in their children's lives.
Certification classes have also changed to be more trauma-centered, better preparing the foster parent for the children in their care.
Foster parents must be at least 21 years old, financially stable, in good health, and have the space in a home for another child.
Certification classes just started in Lake Charles and will continue for the next six weeks. There is also a round of classes set to happen on Saturdays this summer.
Click here for that information or call 337-491-2470 to talk to a home development worker.
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