After many months of scandals and allegations, Louisiana will now have a new leader for the Department of Children and Family Services.

Gov. John Bel Edwards has selected Terri Ricks to head the Department. She's been the interim director since Marketa Walters stepped down in November amid more accusations of poor management.

Amanda Brunson has also been chosen as assistant secretary.

Governor John Bel Edwards says:

I want to thank Terri and Amanda for their dedication and willingness to fill these important roles,  No doubt there are many challenges facing child welfare agencies, including here in Louisiana, but I am impressed by the way Terri has taken her years of knowledge and put it into leading the department and finding solutions. Amanda likewise will be a vital asset as we work to give Louisiana’s children the services they deserve.

This change comes after the deaths of two young children over the summer. Both of those two 2-year-olds died in separate incidents. Many folks close to the cases say workers from DCFS failed to take action quick enough to save the youngsters. The children from Houma and Baton Rouge died in separate incidents. In both of these deaths, DCFS had been alerted ahead of time about possible abuse.

What Changes Have Been Made to Protect Children?

DCFS has implemented new protocols to try to prevent any more tragic deaths from happening again. In Baton Rouge, a 2-year-old died from what has been described as a 3rd fentanyl overdose. Warning signs were sent to DCFS by doctors treating the toddler in the first two incidents. In Houma, a 2-year-old was found dead in a trash can in July. Neighbors had already warned DCFS workers about suspected abuse in the home. The mother's live-in boyfriend is accused of beating the baby to death.

DCFS has hired police officers and nurses to help caseworkers handle investigations of child abuse. But they are also looking for more caseworkers.


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