Methodist Foster Care Supports Louisiana’s Children
in Foster Care and their Foster and Kinship Caregivers
The team at Methodist Foster Care (MFC) has gained a reputation as the “go-to” Therapeutic Foster Care agency in Louisiana. In four years, MFC has grown into Louisiana’s most comprehensive foster care organization. Methodist Foster Care provides three unique services to Louisiana’s community of children in foster care and their foster caregivers: 1) Therapeutic Foster Care, 2) a Kinship Navigator program, and 3) Louisiana Foster Care Support Services. These three programs, directly and indirectly, touch every foster family in Louisiana.
Methodist Foster Care’s Therapeutic Foster Care program is the largest in Louisiana, with more than 120 homes serving children in six regions. MFC is preparing to open two additional offices in the northwest and southeast Louisiana. Since launching the Kinship Navigator program, MFC has assisted more than 300 relative caregivers through the certification process.
In October of 2019, Methodist Foster Care partnered with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to create Louisiana Foster Care Support Services, a statewide organization designed to support Louisiana’s foster caregivers and local foster caregiver associations. The organization’s motto, “You Care for Kids, We Care for You!” speaks directly to the reason MFC launched these services. Louisiana Foster Care Support Services is the program that touches the most lives by providing and organizing support for all of Louisiana’s foster and relative caregivers.
The primary goal of Louisiana Foster Care Support Services is to provide Louisiana’s foster and kinship caregivers the support they require to care well for the children and youth who are served by DCFS. The work of Louisiana Foster Care Support Services seeks to:
- Decrease the loss of foster homes due to insufficient support.
- Increase the self-reported satisfaction of Louisiana’s foster caregivers.
- Increase the number of foster caregivers who provide Quality Parenting.
- Increase placements of children into kinship care.
- Improve placement stability for children in foster care.
- Support DCFS’ efforts to improve permanency for children in foster care.
Every day, Louisiana Foster Care Support Services seeks to ensure foster caregivers are the best possible alternative for children who require out-of-home placement. The organization provides a program that supports, empowers, and strengthens Louisiana’s foster caregivers, foster caregiver associations, and foster care resource organizations. Additionally, Louisiana Foster Care Support Services seeks to strengthen the natural supports that foster caregivers provide each other. This support is provided by developing new foster caregiver associations and supporting existing statewide, regional, and local foster caregiver associations and foster care support organizations.
Foster Caregiver Associations are groups of foster caregivers who meet regularly with each other to share information, encouragement, and occasional training to help foster families cope with the unique stressors of foster caregiving. These meetings provide a safe place for foster caregivers to share their personal experiences without fear of judgment. Foster Care Resource Organizations are support groups that provide advocacy services, supplies )like diapers and school materials) to meet the basic needs of children in foster care, and occasional training for foster parents. Some foster care support organizations are formal nonprofits. Others are dedicated groups of like-minded, good-hearted people who care for children.
Louisiana Foster Care Support Services distributes a quarterly newsletter to foster and kinship caregivers with current information about support groups and resources, training opportunities, and parenting tips or articles written by respected professionals in the child welfare field. Also included in the newsletter is detailed information about new programs and upcoming events that offer support. Their website can be found at http://www.LouisianaFosterCare.com and a Facebook page “@LAFCSO” where the Foster Care Ambassadors post up-to-date information about resources, events, and training opportunities for foster caregivers.
Louisiana Foster Care Support Services is under the direction of Dana Castine, Vice President of Methodist Foster Care. Three Foster Care Ambassadors are responsible for implementing services throughout the state. Each Foster Care Ambassador supports foster and kinship caregivers in one of three broad areas of Louisiana, comprised of three regions of the state.
Foster Care Ambassadors:
Mrs. Margie Nielsen
Ms. Shalonda Thibeaux
(Lake Charles, Lafayette
Ms. Cassie Guillaume
(Baton Rouge, Covington
and New Orleans)
Find Support and Learn More!
The Foster Care Ambassadors live in and maintain close ties to the areas they serve. Each Foster Care Ambassador has long-term, personal, community, and child welfare relationships established during years of work in foster care. Each Ambassador draws upon rich experiences and is committed to the foster caregivers they serve.
Visit http://www.LouisianaFosterCare.com to learn more about their services, caregiver resources, support group meetings, and contact information for your Foster Care Ambassador!
About Dana Castine, Vice President of Methodist Foster Care
Dana Castine joined Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services in November of 2015 to create and lead Methodist Foster Care. Before this, she served as the State Director for Louisiana Mentor, where she had worked for ten years.
Mrs. Castine has an extensive background in child welfare, which she gained working in a variety of settings, including residential care, foster care, family preservation, and family reunification services. She has provided in-home support to families at risk of having their children removed due to abuse and neglect. Mrs. Castine has supervised behavioral assessment teams working in school systems and has completed a range of intensive training to help children who have been traumatized. She has managed family reunification programs.