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"Our goal is to ensure that every child leaves our system with a loving, permanent connection." said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. "Through a comprehensive approach, that leverages partnerships and regional strategies, we are not only increasing the number of permanent families for children, but we are getting children into those families more quickly. This award recognizes the hard work and determination of our staff as well as child welfare system partners such as families, foster parents, courts, attorneys, service providers and faith-based organizations to give Louisiana's foster children the best possible future. It is a great recognition for Louisiana's system and we were honored to be selected among such an esteemed group of individuals and organizations."
Launched in 2013, DCFS' Faith in Families Initiative synthesized the department's energy around improving outcomes for children in foster care. The initiative focused on maintaining familial connections, increasing our focus on finding permanent families for older youth and strengthening foster and adoptive resources for children in our care. Through these efforts, Louisiana has been ranked number one in the country by ACF for timeliness to adoption for four years in a row.
Faith in Families has been implemented with the support of local and national partners like the Dave Thomas Foundation and numerous faith-based organizations who shared a commitment with DCFS to find permanent homes for children in foster care. Through specialized recruiting, extensive public outreach and parent support and training, external partners play an integral role in helping foster children.
"All of our children need and deserve a safe, loving and permanent place to call home. As was reflected through the theme at the ceremony today and by the young people represented, we never outgrow the need for family," said Secretary Sonnier. "We remain committed to working with our partners to serve the 4,800 children in foster care."
DCFS is one of only ten individuals or organizations honored at this year's Adoption Excellence Award ceremony. These awards honor states, local agencies, private organizations, courts, businesses, individuals, and families making key contributions to increasing the number of children from foster care who are adopted or placed in other permanent homes.