BATON ROUGE, La (KTVE/KARD) — On November 10, 2022, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that he has accepted the resignation of Department of Children and Family Services Secretary Marketa Walters. She has a long and distinguished career working to improve the lives of Louisiana children and families, and she is nationally recognized for her expertise in this field.

Walters’ many accomplishments include implementing significant changes to the agency’s approach to foster care through the Quality Parenting Initiative and establishing Louisiana Fosters, which provides support for foster children and parents, in collaboration with Gov. Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards. Since Gov. Edwards’ first term, Louisiana has seen a record number of adoptions from the foster care system, with more than 5,379 children and youth being reunited with their forever families.

I’m grateful for Marketa’s service to our state that has been fueled by her passion to create a better future for all children and families across Louisiana. She has worked tirelessly to improve our foster care system and as a result, we have been able to help thousands of foster children find safe and nurturing permanent homes with loving adoptive families. In addition, Marketa has been on the front lines helping to provide shelter, nutrition and other much needed assistance to those directly impacted by natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic. Her dedication as a public servant has never wavered, and there are countless Louisianans who have benefitted from her hard work and that of the many men and women who make up the agency. There is no denying that child welfare agencies nationwide are facing very difficult and complex challenges and Louisiana is no exception. Those issues include staff retention, high worker caseloads, increased substance and domestic abuse, and sadly the tragic deaths of innocent children. While there are no quick solutions, it is urgent that we find new and effective ways of addressing the problems to make certain we provide the help our families need and deserve and to move our agency forward. We have engaged a third-party expert organization to do a top-to-bottom review of DCFS and make recommendations on improvements to policies, practices, and personnel that can be made to ensure we are serving the children and families of Louisiana in the manner they deserve. The DCFS executive team will continue its work in evaluating and addressing the critical needs of the agency throughout this review. As Deputy Secretary, Terri Porche Ricks will serve as acting Secretary while the search for a new Secretary is being conducted. I will name a new Secretary to lead the agency as soon as possible