At the end of this year, the Acadiana Youth Program will be closing its doors for good. After four decades housing foster children and providing services, program administrators say state budget cuts have left them no other option.
While waiting for a more permanent place to call home, thousands of foster kids have found comfort and help through the program, which is located in Lafayette.
And when it's lights out in a few weeks, Executive Director, Vicki Boudreaux is left to wonder.
“Where are they going to go? And if there are less and less facilities like ours because they can no longer sustain operation, then where will they go?,” said Boudreaux.
The State Department of Children and Family services says over the last few years, more and more children have been transitioned into family home settings, reducing the need for residential shelters, like Acadiana youth, which currently serves one person.
But placing a child into a foster home is not easy and it's not always the best solution. But, specialized care is available at residential homes like AYP. Boudreaux says in many cases, it's a major challenge to help kids who have suffered years of trauma.
“Their behaviors are so escalated, that they really need that additional structure and certainly the 24-hour supervision, which is not something you can get or make available in a foster family,” said Boudreaux.
The state processes nearly 4,000 foster kids per day. After knowing numbers like that, Boudreaux says it's hard to believe their services are not needed.
“We would be thrilled to work ourselves out of a job if there were no kids,” said Boudreaux. “We're just not convinced that's the truth of the matter.”
Acadiana Youth will donate all their furniture and supplies to various non-profits in the area.