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Secretary Walters' Statement in Response to Today's Press Conference Regarding Human Trafficking Case

BATON ROUGE, LA - Marketa Garner Walters, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, issued the following statement today regarding a human trafficking case:

"We welcome the attention that this case is getting, and we join in the outrage that people feel about what has happened to this young woman.

"This is especially troubling to our child welfare staff, who have dedicated their careers to advancing the safety and well-being of Louisiana's children.

"As soon as I was notified about the case involving this child, I launched an internal review to examine the facts and the need to strengthen our processes and procedures.

"We have been working with the Child Welfare League of America to determine the best way to do an independent audit of this case by Child Welfare experts. We want to have a full and complete understanding of this case, and we want to be able to identify any weaknesses in our system and correct them.

"In addition, we are cooperating fully and willingly with the Office of Inspector General and look forward to any recommendations they may have. Our internal review found no evidence of a cover up on the part of our staff. However, should the OIG's investigation find otherwise, we'll take swift action. We investigate cases on behalf of child safety regardless of who's connected to a case.

"We cannot comment on litigation. In addition, state law prevents DCFS from publicly discussing the specifics of this case – any case – to protect the privacy of the child and the child's family. We'll continue to honor that."

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