• Gen Justice

Louisiana unanimously passes reform to help foster kids get to family faster; SB143

PHOENIX / BATON ROUGE — Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Louisiana Sen. Patrick McMath, passed the Louisiana House unanimously with 52 co-authors. Also unanimous in the Senate, SB143 requires an immediate search for relatives when a child comes into foster care and requires court approval before removing a child from a long-term foster family.

The number of children in foster care is rising and this legislation recognizes the importance of quickly placing foster children with relatives whenever possible. To that end, the reform requires that DCFS conduct a detailed and comprehensive search for relatives when a child comes into care. The relative search efforts must be filed in the child’s court case.

This reform also recognizes the need for children to have stable and secure homes and requires court approval before a child who has lived with a foster family for nine months can be removed. The Court Check provides critical oversight on child protection agencies and ensures due process for the children.

The unanimous reform was widely supported and included written testimony from Dr. Charles Zeanah, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and the Mary Peters Sellars-Polchow Chair of Psychiatry at Tulane University School of Medicine.

Dr. Zeanah testified, “Research indicates that, especially for maltreated children, even one foster placement disruption can be harmful and associated with future serious social and psychological problems. This reform recognizes, emphasizes, and prioritizes the importance of stability of placement and relationships for the well-being of young children.”

SB143 will now head to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards for his signature. Louisiana is the third state to adopt this Gen Justice model reform with full support across party lines. Similar versions are being introduced in other states.

About Gen Justice

Gen Justice is an award-winning charitable organization working to mend the broken child protection system through nonpartisan policy changes and a pro bono Children’s Law Clinic.

For press opportunities, please contact us Aimee Jolley at aimee@genjustice.org.