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Children’s Coalition conference

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WEST MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) -Mental health professionals came to West Monroe today for a special conference. It was organized by the Northeast Louisiana Children's Coalition. Statistics were just released about the state of child well-being in Louisiana. Our Nolan Crane talked with people in attendance who say stats don't lie and the findings are troubling.

Social workers and mental health professionals filled the West Monroe Convention Center. The doctors and guest speakers were not the only people who traveled a long way to be in attendance.

"I drove three hours from Nacogdoches, Texas to be at the conference this morning," said David Lawson.

"People came over from Shreveport, Ruston, Alexandria," said Lynda Gavioli.

The purpose of attending is two0fold. Every year the licensed professionals need to earn continuing education hours. They also read the stats LSU and Tulane conducted about the state of child well-being in Louisiana, and they are determined to make a change.

Almost one third of children under the age of five in the state of Louisiana live in poverty. More than 53 percent of births in Louisiana are to unmarried women.15 parishes in the state have unemployment rates above the national unemployment rate.

"These are families under severe stress. These are single moms who can't get an education, can't go to work, if they don't have the proper support for their children. What we as an organization try to do is look at how can we support young families when they are the most vulnerable so that their children have a chance," said Gavioli.

Doctor Frank Campbell says economic concerns can create other problems that these mental health professionals need to be aware of.

"We know that poverty and crisis and displacement all have significant impact of suicide rates in the state and that's been true for some time in Louisiana for several years," said Campbell.

Members of the Children's Coalition say knowledge is power and they hope the people are not only listening, but willing to take action after they leave.

There were also several non-profit organizations that set up booths to educate everyone about services available in Northeast Louisiana.

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