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DCFS blames staffing shortage on recent missteps; offers few solutions to committee

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BATON ROUGE - "Excuses:" that's how Rep. Jason Hughes explained Tuesday's Department of Child and Family services hearing at the Capitol.

"Honestly, I have not been satisfied thus far with the responses from DCFS. What I continue to hear is excuses. I have not heard innovation. I have not seen leadership from the secretary," he said.

Hughes has been calling for a shakeup in leadership at the agency since a toddler on their radar overdosed for the third time and died in June. The WBRZ Investigative Unit reported the agency was aware of the two previous trips to the hospital.

So far, only the case supervisor has resigned.

There's also a criminal investigation into a foster parent who allegedly sexually assaulted several of his foster kids.
Despite the solutions DCFS brought to the hearing today, Hughes doesn't think the agency is on the right track.

"Based upon what I've heard, I am reiterating my call for Secretary Walters' immediate resignation."

Secretary Marketa Walters saying those solutions basically boil down to getting--and retaining--more employees. Currently they are 400 positions to fill.

"We have brought in retirees from around the state. We have brought in workers, like one worker form each region and created a strike team that's there carrying cases. We have taken a lot of staff out of the state office and put them in Baton Rouge," Walters said.

The child welfare agency shuffles blame from her and her workers to rising violence and drug abuse in the parish, as well as COVID, for their staffing problems and subsequent missteps.

To help offset the case load on such a small staff, DCFS plans to partner with Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge and the sheriff's office.

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