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Louisiana Moves Full Steam Ahead in Coordinating Aid to At-Risk Youth

Four state agencies in Louisiana are collaborating to improve aid for children with emotional and mental needs, with the goal of keeping more youth with behavior problems in their homes, as well as improving the way state uses resources to get better results.

The effort is called the Louisiana Coordinated System of Care and has received the support and approval of Governor Bobby Jindal, via executive order, earlier this month. 

During a news conference, Jindal stated, “This coordinated system of care will better support our young people who are either already in, or at risk of being in, out-of-home placement or our juvenile justice system.” 

The plan will initially target 2,400 youth by June 30, 2012. Beyond that timeframe, up to 42,000 others in five regions statewide will eventually gain access to the coordinated system. Officials involved with the program indicated that the primary target population will be children who attend alternative schools or live in residential treatment, psychiatric hospitals, addiction facilities and elsewhere.

Local juvenile justice decision makers, including juvenile judges and parent advocates, have called the coordinated system of care "a system of hope.”

Louisiana is one of the first states in the U.S. to formally link the leadership of four state agencies that serve children. Those agencies are the Office of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health and Hospitals and the state Department of Education.

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