On Thursday, Aug. 30, GSU’s LMSW instructor/coordinator, Jacqueline Garrison, and the Department of Children and Family Services teamed up to bring forth a Town Hall meeting. The event was geared toward those in the community who want to be a part of moving Louisiana forward in finding solutions for child welfare issues such as poverty, child abuse, and neglect.
The secretary for the DCFS, Marketa Garner, titled this event “Conversations with the Secretary” as she breaks down the future goals of DCFS and how GSU students can help.
“We decided to come to Grambling because they have a great social work department,” said Garner. “We have been doing this around the state, and this is our third or fourth day of the North Louisiana swing, just talking about what DCFS has done over the past two and a half years, and what we hope to wrap up in this final year of the term.”
Along with the other great outcomes of the town hall meeting, Garrison was most happy about the student presence at this event. “I think the event went well especially with student participation,” said Garrison.
“It was good to hear them ask the right questions and learn more outside the classrooms. The biggest question of the night was how do we get the services to the right people when there is a lack of resources.”
Garrison further expressed how this is a team experience. “For this to work it has to be a collaborative effort. Other professionals have to come to the table: doctors, lawyers, and social workers have to make sure our children in Louisiana have better outcomes.”
Students were eager to learn and even more eager to find out how they can contribute. Chelsea Warmsley, 22, a junior majoring in social work, learned a lot from the Town Hall.
“The meeting was very informative, and they were very professional,” said Warmsley. “They provided me with a lot of sources and insight about the DCFS, and they explained what they do in the community.
My favorite part was the question and answer because they were accommodating in answering the questions of the students and giving information.”
When it comes to children, one’s job is never done. Garner urges students to join the DCFS team. “We are hiring social work students, so of course we were excited about having social work students here,” said Garner.
“It was important to us to give them a little bit of a different understanding of what the work is actually like outside of textbook knowledge.”
Aside from the child aspect of the program, DCFS is hoping to do their part of the anti-poverty work that the governor is trying to do across the state.
It is to the understanding of DCFS that Louisiana needs housing, transportation, childcare, and jobs. This past 2017 term, DCFS has had 3,907 families served in family services, 7,868 children served in foster care, 825 foster homes newly certified, 2,559 children reunified with families, 797 children adopted, and 173 youth aged out of the system.
For more information, visit the Louisiana DCFS website at www.dcfs.la.gov/foster, or email at LouisianaFosters@la.gov.