BATON ROUGE - The future of Louisiana's children is the focus of a workshop being held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at the Corcoran Conference Center at 4200 Essen Lane in Baton Rouge.
Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Catherine "Kitty" Kimball, Department of Health Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein, Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Ruth Johnson, Acting State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler and Office of Juvenile Justice Deputy Secretary Mary J. Livers have brought together leadership from the public, private and non-profit communities to focus on the challenges Louisiana children face.
"I cannot imagine any endeavor more important than public and private leaders coming together to commit to and plan for improving outcomes for Louisiana's children," said Chief Justice Kimball. "The time and effort we invest in our children now will build the future for everyone in this State."
A key component of this initiative is the Louisiana Kids' Dashboard, which will be finalized at this workshop. This dashboard identifies a set of data-driven outcome measures, such as rates of childhood obesity, graduation rates, recidivism rates among juvenile offenders and rates of repeated incidents of child maltreatment among others to better focus statewide policy. The goal is to ensure state resources are being used effectively to improve children's well-being.
"For too long, Louisiana has occupied the bottom ranks of countless studies on child well-being," said LDH Secretary Bruce D. Greenstein. "These aren't just numbers-it is a reflection of the real condition of children in Louisiana. Chief Justice Kimball is absolutely right. We owe it to the children of Louisiana to get this right, and I challenge each agency, including my own, to take ownership of these measures and hold ourselves accountable for making tangible progress toward a healthier future. "
State agencies and private sector leadership will gather in an Accountability Roundtable to develop major policy commitments. Their task will be to examine current priority initiatives, determine how to leverage resources for their success and see where resources spent on ongoing activities that are not achieving satisfactory results could be better used.
"This collaboration is not only advantageous but it's critical as Louisiana strives to ensure the health, educational success, and overall well-being of our children," said Acting State Superintendent of Education Ollie Tyler. "We know quality of life values are interdependent, and thus no single agency working alone can achieve significant improvement without the support of the others. This event, and the creation of the state dashboard, establishes shared measures to assess how well we collectively support our children. More importantly, our agencies are embracing shared goals and developing overlapping strategies to address some of our most difficult challenges."
"In terms of the future of Louisiana's children, it is critical that we work together to coordinate services with other child-serving agencies at the state and local level to deliver outcome-driven services that can impact children today and also improve outcomes for subsequent generations. Children are only young once, so we must address the needs of children now, and by bringing everyone together, we can ensure that those needs are being met holistically and in the best interest of each child we serve," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson.
"The Office of Juvenile Justice is very pleased to be a part of this important partnership. OJJ supports the tracking of indicators across the child-serving agencies, providing the ability to monitor our progress toward improvement in the continuum of the juvenile justice system, and indeed all child-serving systems, as we continue to move forward with reforms," said OJJ Deputy Secretary Dr. Mary L. Livers. "We feel that collaboration with Louisiana's other child-serving agencies, as we work strategically together, is vital in reaching our mutual goal of improved outcomes and well-being for Louisiana's children."
The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visit http://www.dhh.louisiana.gov. For up-to-date health information, news and emergency updates, follow LDH's blog, Twitter account and Facebook.