DCFS gives updates in front of lawmakers: ‘We’re not there yet but we’re making progress’

DCFS is trying clean things up and courses correct in the wake of a number of mistakes, some even resulting in the death of innocent kids.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 5:57 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2022 at 6:17 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is trying clean things up and course correct in the wake of a number of mistakes, some even resulting in the death of innocent kids.

After an audit on DCFS showed 88% of employees were passionate about their job but only 54% were satisfied, it only added to the list of problems the agency needs to fix. Today in front of the Senate Health and Welfare committee, representatives with the agency gave updates on what work they have been able to do.

“More than 1,000 residents have been helped to meet 130,000 basic needs,” said Interim Deputy Secretary Terri Ricks.

“They’re doing things that they said they would do and it’s proving that they’re starting to move the ball forward,” said the Chairman of the committee, Sen. Fred Mills (R).

Sen. Mills said when it comes to the agencies’ effort to make changes, they are not quite there but they are making progress. He said the committee is gaining confidence in the agency’s Interim Deputy Secretary, Terri Ricks, to do the job until Governor Edwards appoints someone else. This comes after former Secretary Marketa Walters resigned last month.

“I think the majority is seeing the ball move forward, I think we’re seeing some deliverables that are being met, we’re seeing some long-term goals that are being identified,” Sen. Mills added.

The audit cited a lack of pay, caseload work and unrealistic expectations as part of the reason for low morale. But to try and turn things around, they have been able to hire more folks through job fairs around the state and have made improvements with their technology and partnership with law enforcement. The agency will return to the Capitol in six weeks for its next meeting.

It was also said that real improvements will start to be visible once they get the personnel issue under control and are able to make the workload more realistic. And if any legislation comes from these meetings, it will likely be to try and get some more money in these employees’ pockets to keep them around.

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