“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
– Fred Rogers
201 St. Charles Ave. Suite 2506,
New Orleans, LA 70170
Phone: 844-4KIDLAW (4543529); 754-888-KIDS (5437)
(By Appointment Only)
Since 1988, when the Del A. v. Edwards class action was filed, Louisiana captured national attention due to the systemic failures of its child protection system in caring for physically, sexually, and emotionally abused children who suffered severe injuries and damages. The plaintiffs, 15 children, sought certification of a class of 6,000 children, asserting that they were or had been at risk of being involuntarily placed as foster children into the custody of the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Resources. The Plaintiffs’ claimed the state agency violated their rights under 42 USC § 1983 and the Federal Adoption Assistance & Child Welfare Act.
In 2019, a Child Welfare League report found that Louisiana’s children, like many other children in various states, were suffering while in government care. View the report here. Only one-third of children who are available for adoption were adopted. Many other children needed, but were never treated for, alcohol and drug abuse. In 2016, 145 children aged out of the foster care system without being returned home or achieving permanency through adoption or other alternatives.
In response to an overwhelming public need, Louisiana has extended its statute of limitations or time with which an abused child can bring a personal injury action. An action against a person for sexual abuse of a minor, or physical abuse of a minor resulting in permanent impairment or permanent physical injury or scarring, is subject to a liberative prescriptive period of 10 years. This prescription commences to run from the day the minor attains majority, and this prescription shall be suspended for all purposes until the minor reaches the age of majority. La. Rev. Stat. § 9:2800.9.
One of the bright spots is the Louisiana Child Welfare Trauma Project. This initiative is a collaboration with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to improve access to need-driven, evidence-based mental and behavioral health services in child welfare. Louisiana was one of nine states to receive five-year grants for demonstration projects. The project is under the supervision of the Tulane University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. While improvements to the system are still being made, Louisiana, like many other states, still has a long way to go to ensure the most vulnerable population gets the help, protection, and care they need.
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