Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge creates plan to help struggling DCFS deal with massive caseload

Amid crucial missteps that possibly led to the death of two children within the last few months, DCFS is still dealing with a boom in cases.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 10:51 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Amid crucial missteps that possibly led to the death of two children within the last few months, The Department of Children and Family Services is still dealing with a boom in cases and a critical shortage of workers.

In the last six months, the agency has investigated 1,326 reports of child abuse and neglect and the WAFB I-TEAM has learned as of Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, there are close to 85 cases in this region where no contact has been made.

“If we just look at the month of September as a comparison, it’s a 63 percent increase in the number of cases,” said Dr. Rhenda Hodnett.

In the month of October alone, leaders say another 259 cases flooded in and despite hiring 15 more employees who should be on board by the end of the month, they are struggling to keep pace with the staggering reality.

“Right now, we do not have enough staff to adequately address the crisis that we are in with the number of cases that are coming in and the number of staff that we have to respond to that,” said former DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters.

On top of deploying a strike team to help manage their case load, the department is also seeking outside help from a local agency to provide some relief.

“Marketa Walters approached us herself about putting these two different types of services in place to try to help and improve the DCFS system and overcome some of the challenges they are currently enduring,” Rene Taylor said.

Taylor is the executive director of Family Service of Greater Baton Rouge (FSGBR).

The organization plans to help DCFS with two different programs. The first one will provide counseling and special services to DCFS workers and their families. The second is a pilot program that will help the department get a grip on their heavy case load.

“We will have a team to go in the homes and work with the children and families. In addition to that, we’ll be putting services in place such as counseling, mental health treatment, parenting classes, and other services and resources that the families need,” Taylor said.

Taylor says they were approached about three months ago by the now former secretary to come up with the program.

The plan is to give DCFS enough manpower and relief to help prevent another tragedy.

“It could possibly prevent that from happening again because we’re actually doing work that DCFS is challenged to do effectively right now because they’re so short staffed,” Taylor said.

Taylor believes this will change and save lives.

“The overall goal is to ensure that these families don’t enter back into the DCFS system,” Taylor said.

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