Welcome to the Diocese of Lake Charles

The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops recently testified in the Senate Finance Committee to view the budget as a moral document and put the least among us first.

"We believe that every budget decision should be assessed by whether, first of all, it protects or threatens human life and dignity. Another central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Mt. 25), making concrete the teachings of Jesus Christ. 

The needs of those children in our intermediate care facilities and other needs of people with disabilities, those in our neighborhoods who are hungry and homeless and those without work or in poverty. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity.

Over this past year we have seen the great work of the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Education, Department of Corrections, Department of Labor, Department of Health and Hospitals and other Departments and how they are trying to innovate to reduce poverty.

In 2019, Senator Barrow passed into law a bipartisan bill to urge all departments to coordinate and focus on poverty called the Empowering Families to Live Well Act. Although not fully implemented or funded, the concept is exactly what is needed. We urge you to continue to acknowledge this type of work and to support those approaches that state departments, non-profits and the business community can work together to address poverty. You are currently looking at some proposals to address our literacy crisis, affordable housing, restorative justice, caring for the environment, substance abuse, mental health, financial literacy and others.  

We urge you to look at all of these and others which comprise what are called the social determinants of health that impact poverty. Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes. These determinants include Income, Employment, Life Skills, Community Involvement, Spirituality, Money Management, Housing, Food, Drugs/Alcohol, Health Care, Parenting Skills, Child Care, Children’s Education, Adult Education, Mental Health, Transportation, Legal and Disabilities, which measure whole family well- being.

We ask that you support work to integrate these across all Departments and programs across the state. A simple example from a poverty reduction program found that the more preventative health care visits by the participants, the more they attended a computer certification class, the higher the graduation rate, which resulted in obtaining higher livable wage jobs. Some just needed eye glasses since they could not see the computer screen and then they flourished.  

In conclusion, poverty is not intractable nor is it a character flaw. It can be addressed with focus, strategic funding and determination from all of us working with the least among us we are called to serve."  

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