Louisiana’s first children’s ombudsman takes office under historic role
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Former Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Kathleen Richey started her new role Monday, Oct. 2, as Louisiana’s first children’s ombudsman.
The position was created in response to the recent chaos and controversy surrounding the Department of Children and Family Services, and the Office of Juvenile Justice. Three children died under the watch and care of DCFS last summer due to multiple failures by the agency and an apparent lack of oversight. There have also been multiple complaints of alleged abuse on the OJJ.
In her new role, Richey will closely monitor the different agencies that provide care for children across the state. She will have the ability to review complaints and propose changes to help improve the services that the agency provides.
“Children across the state deserve more than we’re giving them,” said Richey. “It is really to look at the wellbeing of Louisiana’s children and make recommendations to improve that well-being across the board.”
Sen. Regina Barrow has been at the center of this effort.
“This is not going to happen overnight. We did not get here overnight, and we’re not going to be able to make the changes overnight, but however, I will be looking, I will be very engaged to make sure these changes are happening,” said Barrow.
State leaders believe this new position will help save lives if it’s done properly. Louisiana Legislative Auditor Michael Waguespack said he will work side by side with Richey in his office.
“I think the state of Louisiana is a bit behind the curve, but we’re doing our best to get up to speed and create a good office that serves the needs of this state and the children,” said Waguespack.
“I’ll quote Desmond Tutu. ‘It is easier to build strong children, than to repair broken men.’”
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