BLOG ARCHIVE: MILITARY
Thank you to all our military personnel for the sacrifices you have made for our freedom.
Since the 1970’s Black History Month has been observed in the United States during the month of February to highlight the achievements and contributions of African Americans.
An activist for developmentally appropriate practice, Jolivette-Jones is dedicating her fellowship year to promoting active, student-centered learning in kindergarten.
Whetstone leaves no student behind in her science and math lessons, using a combination of small groups, individualized instruction and common formative assessments.
When local historians look back on 2018, Tangipahoa Parish School Superintendent Melissa Martin Stilley says she hopes it will be remembered as a turning point for her home parish.
Like many in New Orleans in 2005, Lori was forced into a career change. Losing her home and her job after Katrina, she took what was a hobby and turned it into career. Her love of ink, paper, design and all things creative began with her first job, working for her father, Tommy Monahan, at Monahan Printing and Direct Mail. She started by working in the dark room, stripping film and creating printing plates, then moving onto graphics, customer service, and sales. She caught the bug and fell in love with the smell of ink. She always had a great eye for design, but it was all of the designers that worked at Monahan that taught her everything she knows. Lori says that having a background in the printing industry has given her knowledge that some other designers may not have and given her an advantage.
Lori is a 3rd generation printer. Her grandfather, Tom Monahan Jr., started the company in 1944, and her father took over the business in 1977, growing it into a very successful company. In 2002 the National World War II Museum purchased the buildings, and Ash Abbott bought the company, which is now MPress.
Her hobby of designing invitations for friends became a career. Her first corporate client, Cross Gates Athletic Club in Slidell, was once one of her clients when she worked in sales at Monahan. Fifteen years later, they are still one of her best clients. So many from her days at Monahan helped her little company grow into what it is today.
There are 2 sides to her business today. One, working with Kelley Dugan Abbott, owner of Write On Stationery and Ash Abbot’s wife. Together they create custom invitations for weddings, debutante balls, sweet 16s, fundraisers, holiday cards, Mardi Gras balls and all things parties for some of New Orleans most discerning residents. She custom designs all of her projects for each client individually; she loves being able this aspect of her job. Lori brings her clients ideas to life and gives them their very own unique design.
She designs for Corporations/schools on the other side of her business: logos, catalogs, brochures, annual reports, billboards, t-shirts, signage, menus, direct mail pieces, cups, newsletters, and anything that needs to be designed for a business or a school. Donna Edwards’s Louisiana First’s logo was designed by Lori. It is a cliché, but no job is too big or too small. Designing a client’s business cards while working on a 250-page coffee table book, is a normal day. Some of her clients include Frischhertz Electric, St. Augustine High School, Ursuline Academy, De La Salle, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group, Allstate Sugarbowl, Ochsner Health, The Feil Group, Jefferson Council on Aging, and many more. The list is ever changing, the industries run the gamut.
She never imagined that her design hobby would turn into an amazing and successful career. “I have always dreamed of being an artist. I was never sure of the medium; I just always had an extreme desire to create. Cooking, decorating, gardening, painting are all things I do and love, but graphic design pays my bills. I am very lucky to spend my days creating. It really is a dream come true.”
Abbigale Rose Ferrier was born on June 11, 1998 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She attended Holy Name of Jesus Elementary School until 2007. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Abbi’s family relocated to Marietta, Georgia, where she completed the remainder of her education. In 2016, Abbi returned to Louisiana to attend Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. During her time at LSU, Abbi joined the Air Force ROTC program, where she accepted an AFROTC scholarship and took an oath of enlistment to enter the Air Force upon graduation. In the summer of 2018, she attended Air Force Field Training at Maxwell Air Force Base and earned a spot to commission as an Air Force Officer.
Abbi has been the recipient of many awards through Air Force ROTC, both academic and achievement. In 2018, she was selected as Cadet Wing Commander for her Air Force ROTC detachment, where she led over sixty GMC and POC cadets. Abbi has been ranked amongst the top 5% of her detachment, earning the Meritorious Service Award twice. She has also been nominated to earn the Distinguished Graduate award amongst her senior class. Amongst other extracurricular achievements, Abbi has consistently earned a spot on her university’s dean’s list and was selected to intern for Birmingham, Alabama’s sixth district congressional office.
Abbi will graduate from Samford University on May 9, 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. Upon graduating in May, Abbi will also commission as an officer into the United States Air Force. Abbi has been selected by the Air Force Judge Advocate General Corps to delay her entrance into Active Duty to pursue a law degree. In the fall of 2020, Abbi will be attending Loyola University New Orleans College of Law to obtain her Juris Doctor. Upon the obtainment of her Juris Doctor degree, Abbi will enter into the United States Air Force as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) Officer.
1 each Pork Belly
1/2 Pork Loin
1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 Tablespoon black Pepper, Cracked
1 Tablespoon Salt, Kosher
3 sprigs of Rosemary chopped
1 each Clove of Roasted Garlic
1 ½ cup Milk
1 ½ cup Water
4oz unsalted butter
1 cup Stone Ground Grits (local as possible, they taste so much better)
2 ounces Salt
4 ounces Cream Cheese
4 ounces Cheddar cheese
2 bunches Kale, Mustard, Rabe
1 each Lemon
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 each medium white onion, diced
1 each medium carrot diced
1 each Fennel diced
3 each Celery stalks diced
3 ounces Rice Wine Vinaigrette or Champagne Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chef Jeff Mattia’s 25 years of professional culinary experience is product of a life of interest in food and cooking. Born and raised in Hartford, Connecticut, Mattia began helping his mom cook when he was only 2 years old – it’s been his passion ever since. His lifetime of interest in the culinary arts – both personally and professionally – have given Mattia a diverse and broad view of hospitality that influence his guest’s experiences at Pyre Provisions.
Mattia proudly served in the United States Marine Corps from 1995-1999 where he cooked for 1,000-5,000 troops every day on board US Navy vessels and in the field. During his service, he requested deployment wanting to serve his country. During his deployment, he experienced the food and cultures of 26 countries before his honorable discharge as a Corporal in Charge of a Field Mess Operation with 24th MEU.
After his service, Mattia enrolled at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in the Culinary Arts in 2003. Following graduation, he gained experience as the Sous Chef at Todd English’s Tuscany, where he stayed for three years before joining Tom Colicchio’s team as Chef de Cuisine opening the 3rd location of Craftsteak. After two successful years, he relocated to New Orleans to work under chef John Besh as Executive Sous Chef at Restaurant August in 2010. In 2012, he was promoted to serve as Executive Chef at American Sector at The National World War II Museum. In 2014, Mattia left the Besh group to expand his hospitality experience, first at the Hyatt Regency and then at the Royal Sonesta New Orleans. In 2017, Mattia was named Best Chef of Louisiana by the American Culinary Federation’s New Orleans Chapter and, in 2019, Mattia received the Hotel Champion of Hospitality Award from the Louisiana Hospitality Foundation.
In 2019, Mattia announced his new restaurant concept, Pyre Provisions, fulfilling a lifelong dream to open his own restaurant concept.
At seventeen I signed my life away to the Army (as my mother would say it). It was 1999, Clinton was president, it was an all-volunteer force during peacetime operations, and I was given a promise of free college once I completed my enlistment. It was the best way to see the world while leaving my small town behind.
Fast forward two years. September 11th. The unforgettable terrorist attacks on US soil rocked our world. Instantly the dynamics of the military changed. From what seemed like a usual work day to now conducting 24 hour guard rotations, to extensive vehicle searches, to racial profiling anyone that didn’t look “American.” Our training was no longer “check the box” and transformed into a do-or-die mentality. The thought of war is heavy for any person, but especially for a naive 19 year old that has never left the surrounding states, much less the country.
However, the military is known for taking away any sense of your individuality to build you up as a part of the big machine. It is necessary for survival and mission completion to be of one mind. Learning our enemy’s tactics and insight in their behavior was a necessity to complete the commanded mission, but it also led to learned hatred, ethnocentrism and distrust. This was what the future of my military career looked like: war.
Shortly after 9/11, we were conducting peace keeping exercises in Egypt to remain allies while we concurrently bombed Afghanistan. My first time out of the country was to a place completely different from anything I’ve ever known. Instead of excitement to possibly see one of the wonders of the world, we were watching our backs and learning how to dehumanize the entire Arab culture. Because of the actions of extreme terrorists, we generalized all Arabs and Muslims as the enemy. We were not trained to commiserate or have empathy; characteristics that would only cloud judgement when the trigger needed to be pulled. Desensitization increased.
The next year would be spent with countless weeks and months at warfighter exercises to perfect our battle skills and ultimately prepare for the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. There was no deciphering between our Commander-in-Chief’s involvement in Afghanistan or Iraq at this point, it was more so an attack of a culture, not just of the population of people that wanted to kill me and anyone with a western ideology.
We entered Iraq during one of the deadliest times, compounding the need to find fault in the people that wanted to kill us. Couldn’t they see that we would bring a life of democracy? That’s why we were there? To bring stability and a sense of humanity to an uncivilized corner of the Earth? Sure, if that’s what I needed to hear to keep my part of the big machine in motion.
War changes you. Not just from witnessing or being a part of atrocities, but from ALWAYS being on alert. I didn’t sleep for weeks because I was afraid that I wouldn’t wake up to the bombings to make it to the bunker in time. Over time, you just accepted that you were going to die and became numb in order to go through the motions. This carried on for 14 months.
I’d like to say that there was a magic number or formula given to bounce back to the naivety of my pre-combat days. “Oh, it’s been 6 months, time to move on.” For instance, if a Soldier has an injury and has doctor’s orders to rest for x amount of days, then they get double that time to be required to be fully mission capable. This wasn’t the case. Because we were one of the first rounds of Soldiers returning from combat, there were no measures in place like there are today. We didn’t learn how to reintegrate back to civilian life or how to drive down the interstate and not wonder if every piece of trash was a roadside bomb. It has taken years of evolving from a place of self medication to seeking professional help; to understand that I still have a purpose in this life and that I cannot find it at the bottom of a bottle. Through time, I obtained that “free” college education and a teaching certificate to better serve my country. I traded in my rifle for my podium and was set to teach tomorrow’s citizens.
I blissfully taught in the corner of my rural school, in a red state, where everyone thought like me. I was still blinded by ingrained bias but felt proud that I was falling back on all the fundamental experiences from my military career that made me “worldly.” But for the first time, it felt wrong.
It was my first year teaching, halfway through the year I received a new student that was Muslim. Initially, I drew upon my past experiences which could potentially be problematic. However, since becoming a new mom, my ability to empathize changed. Cultural relativism guided me in forming a relationship with this student. I had to quickly learn that I was no longer in the business of dehumanizing, but empowering. How could I do that with baggage full of old ideas and practices?
This student’s mother converted to Islam, married the student’s father, and together had a couple children. When things didn’t work out, and she filed for divorce, the student’s father and mother split custody. The child would tell me of the evil things her father would do to her mother. I was called as a character witness in a custody battle. It was no longer me against a culture. It was me standing up for MY student, a child, a human. I had immense fear standing before her father in court, juxtaposed to my immense love for my student. This was when the war started ending for me.
Fast forward 5 years. At this point I had started to receive accolades and awards for my work in education. I was traveling around the United States learning/teaching how to better implement STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) into the elementary classroom. Because of this innovative work, I was recruited by the 2019 LaSTOY to join STEM Revolution, a new company that trained teachers of the United Arab Emirates how to implement STEM into their schools.
I had to learn about their country to better connect with their teachers, so they can in turn better empower their students to make this shift in their curriculum. The UAE has quickly grown to a country that relies heavily on tourism. They have established themselves as a destination that builds attractions that are bigger and better than anywhere else in the world. They understand that when the oil runs dry, that they will need to rely on innovation and entrepreneurship to not only continue to attract tourists, but to be fully sustainable. This begins with providing opportunities for their students to practice design thinking and problem solving. Was I cut out for this?
I was on a 16 hour flight to Dubai to empower these teachers and share my knowledge and best practices. There I was, about 12 hours into the flight when the air crew switched their language from English to Arabic, that I had a full on panic attack. The familiar smells, sounds, and sights of the desert starting pouring out from a place that I thought was tucked away forever. This was the first time that I had returned to the Middle East since leaving combat in war-torn Iraq. If it weren’t for the fact that the air crew wouldn’t go for it, I would have demanded the plane be turned around that instant. I would have given in to my fears (and had to endure another 12 hour flight back). All I could do was “soldier on,” push my insecurities aside, and continue mission.
I showed up to work the first day and tried my best to hide the plethora of emotions running rampant in my mind. When the women dressed in all black, only showing their eyes, filled the classroom, I questioned everything I ever knew about myself and the audience of hidden faces. I did the only thing that I knew how to when standing in front of a new class of students: build rapport. Almost every established teacher can tell you that you cannot not even think about teaching curriculum until you build relationships with your students. How can I do this? What if they found out about my past?
I inquired about their culture. I let them teach me. I was teaching them about STEM, but they were teaching me how to be human. I always thought they veiled their faces out of suppression. Quite the contrary! These beautiful women believe that when they have something to bring to the table, that their efforts and ideas are what is seen. They don’t want someone’s perception to be swayed by their outer appearance, but by their work ethic and character. These women want exactly what every woman and teacher wants: what’s best for their children, their students, and their country. Instead of finding all the ways that we are different, I was able to start seeing how we were all the same: human. I was teaching THEM how to use their country’s success to empower their students. I encouraged them to post pictures of the UAE’s first astronaut in space so that their students can see themselves in a successful role or profession just like that astronaut that looks like them!
The plane ride home was a much different experience. Instead of breathing heavily into a paper bag and my heart pounding, I used that time to reflect on how I can bring some of the lessons-learned back into my classroom. How was I going to teach and represent each culture in MY classroom? Do I only have posters of successful scientists and inventors that look like me and depict my culture? How can I change the environment that many different students from many different backgrounds share? How can I take my previous lack of cultural awareness and use that as a tool to educate my students at a far younger age than I learned? How can I create a space where everyone feels they can bring their gifts to the table?
Besides the wonderful travel experience and professional experience this trip afforded me, I learned more than I ever could on a personal level. This trip was a chance for me to begin to heal from my past story and create a new journey. I was able to reflect and learn about myself. I wasn’t going to beat myself up for the 19 year old me’s point of view, but use it as a place to grow from. I didn’t have to be stuck in the same mindset of living in fear of what I didn’t know, but as an opportunity to learn about mankind on a global level. What better way can I service my students than to bring that back to my classroom? To show my students that in order to advance mankind on a global level, it has to begin with checking our own beliefs and learned behaviors. It is about being honest with ourselves and facing the fear of difficult conversations. It’s about winning the war from within to bring peace to the world around us.
Even as I write this, there is a knot of anxiety in my chest recalling events that have been locked away. It is somewhat cathartic knowing that my struggles may help another. I find solace in knowing that I can turn something traumatic into a life of change.
Hugs from Heaven was founded by south Louisiana Catholic wife and mom of four, Julie Marceaux Romero. She was inspired by her own real-life experience when her brother Chad went through life-threatening transplant surgeries in New Orleans in November 2011. During the operations, Julie prayed in the chapel, wishing for the Lord’s physical presence to hold and comfort her. In this moment, she received a clear vision from Jesus to create a “hug from heaven” – a soft pillow doll in His image. It wasn’t until 13 years later, after his death on January 6, 2011 (also Julie’s birthday) that she created the first doll from the vision she had received. She shared them with her circle of friends and they became popular in the Acadiana region.
In 2017, Julie began a new journey and sold Hugs from Heaven to another Louisiana native, Jennifer Angelle. Now, Jennifer and her family are taking these sweet hugs beyond Louisiana and sharing them around the world. Hugs from Heaven is now found at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City, the Basilica of the National Shrine for Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC as well as at retailers in 24 states. They were recently featured on EWTN TV which reaches over 140 countries!
My favorite thing about this Louisiana-based company, in true Louisiana-style, they “hug” back! HFH gives a signficant portion of their proceeds to those in need. The Angelles traveled internationally to Rome, Italy last Christmas to deliver the dolls to patients at Bambino Gesu (Vatican children’s hospital for the underprivileged), they support national charities like the Sisters of Life, New York City whose mission is to help with crisis pregnancies, healing after abortion and respect for life advocacy and they support many local Louisiana charities, including Fr. Michael Champagne, Community of Jesus Crucified newly opened Don Bosco Center for Youth in St. Martinville, Louisiana that works to give kids a safe place for tutoring, meals and opportunity for prayer.
We love the fact that each plush Jesus and Mother Mary have a heart monogrammed on their chest to serve as a reminder of God’s comfort, presence, mercy but most of all His love! Our First Lady agrees the world needs more HUGS! Ask for them at your local gift shops or find them online at www.hugsfromheaven.com.
Share a hug using First Lady’s exclusively 25% off online order – CODE: HUGLOUISIANA
For more information:
Jennifer Angelle, Owner/Manager
Hugs from Heaven
1011 Berard Street
Breaux Bridge, LA 70517
As we age and mature, there are so many turns and paths to take. Career, marriage, children, and varying levels of activity that come with life and its experiences. Have you found yourself in a rut of complacency, or energized and motivated to get to the gym or running trail a few days a week? Are you living to eat or eating and fueling to live? Ask yourself this and think of a goal; what do you WISH you were doing? The first step is visualization, and the next is to take ACTION.
What did you do for activity at 13, 16, or 18 yrs old? Were you involved in school sport, did you play basketball in your front yard, did you run sprint races at recess, or swim races at the pool during your summers? It is time to tap back into THAT, whatever it was that moved you to push your body until you were sweaty, red faced and laughing. Embrace your inner athlete—she has been there this whole time. Even if you never competed in anything, you have two legs like anyone else and can start somewhere. For me it was the “Couch-to-5K” app in 2010, when at age 38 I had never run a mile in my life, ever. I swam competitively through most of my youth, so had never done many ‘land sports’. It was a mind-shift that needed to happen, as it does for us all when we try something new. The decision comes first, then the determination to take action and practice positive self-talk.
How you speak to yourself with your inside voice is a choice.
How you speak to yourself with your inside voice is a choice. Awareness of the negative thoughts and judgements we impose on ourselves is a huge step in overcoming negative thought habits. If you want to believe you can make a change, you sometimes have to ‘fake it until you make it’: say positive affirmations to yourself as you take new action. Your practice of awareness,followed by a reversal of the negative self-talk will eventually become a positive new habit. Then your new actions become part of a new routine.
Your inner athlete is the one who ‘suits up and shows up’, ready to take on a challenging workout, and ready to push a little harder even when you feel like quitting. Start simple: a walk around the block with your kids or dog, a simple bike ride on the local bike trace, or taking a masters swim class. It can be 3 beginner CrossFit classes or 3 beginner yoga classes. Just 3 workouts a week for 3 weeks in a row WILL make an impact, and it starts with YOU. What kind of athlete will you be this year? I wish you the best at making a start and embracing your power as you recognize the athlete within.
Dr. Carter has been a life-long resident of Slidell, LA, and earned her medical degree from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans. She completed her residency at Louisiana State University Health Science Center in the Department of Pediatrics. She worked at Pearl Acres Pediatrics six years before joining Ochsner in 2007. Additionally, she has served as the Chief of Pediatrics at the NorthShore Regional Medical Center (NSRMC) from 2002-2004; Chief of Pediatrics at Ochsner Medical Center 2012-2013; and was the Ochsner Medical Center Reach Out and Read Physician Liaison from 2012-2013. She has gone on mission to Belize with the Dos Amigos dental and medical mission in 2010. Her interests are triathlon and fitness activities, and passionately promotes an active lifestyle with healthy nutrition in children and adolescents. She has deep compassion, supporting families of children on the Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and asthma management. Her goal is to have parents and caregivers understand good health practices, and take an active role in the health and vitality of their child.
The St. Landry Evangeline Anti-human Trafficking (SLEAT) Taskforce was formed in April 2017 in response to a singular trafficking incident involving a local youth. Its sole mission was to compile an organized document of recommendations for the St. Landry and Evangeline Parish communities to provide education and awareness, create tools to identify and track occurrences, and to avail resources to assist with the eradication of human-trafficking. This document was intended to serve as a resource guide to assist the St. Landry and Evangeline Parish School Districts, the Sheriffs’ and local law enforcement agencies, the 13th and 27th Judicial District and City Courts, and the St. Landry and Evangeline local communities in their development of prevention and educational awareness strategies to address human trafficking; thereby, resulting in coordinated responses to such a heinous crime from a proactive position rather than a reactive one.
The SLEAT Taskforce’s membership consisted of thirty-four prominent women from varied professions with demonstrated passions relating to a myriad of community concerns and initiatives. The list of females identified and selected included persons ranging in ages from 17 to 70 who were college students, mothers, grandmothers, business owners, educators, healthcare workers, social workers, counselors, media personalities, economic development practitioners, religious laypersons, law enforcement officers, municipal employees, court employees, elected officials, and family members of human trafficked survivors. Taskforce members commenced their work, first, by educating themselves about this issue of human trafficking by attending various local, regional, state, and national conferences, symposiums, and workshops. The group convened monthly meetings over a period of 20 months and hosted community events during April 2018 (featured author, Mimi Crown, “Stuck in Traffic” and a screening of the documentary, “Not My Life” with over 200 attendees) and during the national awareness month of January 2019.
Nevertheless, the work and presence of the SLEAT Taskforce have created open environments to facilitate “conversations” and build awareness that human trafficking exists in even the remotest parts of our communities. Residents of St. Landry and Evangeline Parishes appear concerned when news media reports instances of human trafficking. Their empathetic responses to the victims seemingly serve as defense mechanisms to mask their otherwise amazement and “shock” to discover such crimes occur in rural settings. Throughout the development of this taskforce, individuals have repeatedly responded by asking “how can [they] help”. Various organizations, agencies, groups, and social clubs within Louisiana work closely within networks seeking to bring community awareness and education to the residents of Louisiana. Thus, human trafficking not only affects families but impacts communities.
The SLEAT Taskforce printed and distributed approximately 30 booklets to community stakeholders (i.e., the educational system, judicial system, local law enforcement agencies and healthcare service providers) within the parishes of St. Landry and Evangeline.
Electronic versions are available on the Opelousas City Court’s website, www.opelousascitycourt.com.
1. Tracey Antee, Opelousas General Health Systems
2. Tracy Auzenne, Universal Health Services, Inc.
3. Wanda Bagent , Office of Juvenile Justice
4. Laura Balthazar, St. Landry-Evangeline Sexual Assault Center
5. Phyllis Tyler Beverly, Opelousas Police Department
6. Lisa Boudreaux, Opelousas City Court
7. Jessica Charles, New Life Church of God
8. Lynnette Chevis, St. Landry Parish Sheriff Department
9. Lydia Curette, North Central High School
10. Elizabeth Davis, St. Landry Parish Crime Stoppers
11. Andrea Dean, Holy Ghost Catholic Church
12. Janel Dugas, 4nsic Services of Louisiana
13. Hilda Edwards, City of Ville Platte
14. Jane Edwards, Immaculate Conception Church – Lebeau
15. Marcelle Fontenot, KATC – TV3
16. Jo Ellen Frilot, Office of Juvenile Justice
17. Ramona Fruge , St. Landry-Evangeline Sexual Assault Center
18. Joy Guidry, Cypress Grove Venue
19. Janice Henry, Holy Ghost Catholic Church
20. June Inhern, St. Landry Parish School District
21. Taylor Irving, University of Louisiana at Lafayette – Student
22. Quaniqua Joseph, Northwestern State University – Student
23. Roxanne Kennerson, Opelousas Junior High School
24. La’Pearl Keys, SLESAC/St. Landry Parish Drug Court
25. Gail Lark, Innovative Solutions/Town of Grand Coteau
26. Brandy Ledet, St. Landry Economic Development
27. Melanie Lee, City of Opelousas Tourism
28. Deanna Lejeune, Opelousas Genereal Health Systems
29. LaVonya Malveaux, Opelousas City Court
30. Damian Mott, Innovative Solutions, Inc.
31. Angela Roberts, St. Landry Parish Families In Need of Services
32. Jenny Stelly, Safety Premiere Training/Sephora USA, Inc.
33. Amber Tezeno, University of Louisiana at Lafayette – Student
34. Tiffany Zachary, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
There are over 1000 Louisiana teens in foster care on any given day. These youth account for 1 in 4 of the total population of children in Louisiana foster care. Only 4% of the state’s current foster families provide homes specifically for teens. When there aren’t enough families available for teens, it means teens must leave their schools, friends, activities and communities. Each time a teen changes schools, they lose 4-6 months of their education, increasing the risk of not graduating or dropping out. This leads to under or unemployment and homelessness as adults.
The Department of Children and Family Services is working diligently to change those outcomes. With guidance from Dr. Denise Goodman, national child welfare expert and consultant with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, DCFS has implemented recruitment strategies throughout the state to develop foster homes for teens. This work includes a statewide media campaign and recruitment materials to share the message of the need of foster homes for teens; developing and hosting regional orientation meetings specifically for families interested in providing homes for teens; developing and providing specialized training for foster caregivers providing homes for teens; developing community supports for foster caregivers of teens; working with community partners to raise awareness of the need of foster homes for teens through social media, local media outlets and displaying recruitment materials
Research has consistently shown that young people who transition from foster care without caring connections and support experience very poor outcomes at a much higher rate than their peers in the general population. According to Casey Family Programs:
A strong family provides stability, consistency and support as teens grow and develop.
You can build a strong and positive relationship as teens are able to express their thoughts and feelings.
We have amazing teens that need a strong, encouraging family to help them reach their fullest potential.
DCFS provides reimbursement towards the costs of the teen’s clothing, food and a medical card to cover the costs of doctors, prescriptions and therapy.
Each teen has a team of professionals including a foster care worker, Youth Specialist and others to help the teen and caregiver.
Foster caregivers have a Home Development Specialist that provides caregivers with ongoing guidance and support.
DCFS provides ongoing training to equip foster caregivers to meet this needs of youth in their care.
Louisiana Fosters connects foster caregivers to resources and supports in their communities.