Louisiana's social services department has banned the spending of welfare money on cigarettes, alcohol and lottery tickets.
The new regulations were issued Friday by the Department of Children and Family Services. They also include restrictions that prohibit the use of a welfare electronic benefit card at liquor stores, gambling sites and strip clubs, as required under federal law.
Violators of the new regulations will stop receiving welfare benefits for a year for a first offense, two years for a second offense and permanently for a third offense.
The state Department of Children and Family Services has intercepted more than $806,000 in casino winnings from 599 parents to cover back child support payments.
Secretary Suzy Sonnier said Tuesday that the casino intercept initiative has been a very successful tool in collecting overdue support. The department says collections from 18 participating casinos range from a high of $106,771 from players at the Hollywood Casino in Baton Rouge to a low of $12,218 at Harrah's Louisiana Downs in Bossier City.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services says its child abuse and neglect hotline has received 114,000 calls in its first year, and more than 50,000 of those calls reported suspected abuse or neglect.
The hotline is 1-855-4LA-KIDS. It's for both people required by law to report suspected abuse or neglect, and people in the general public.
Department Secretary Suzy Sonnier said Thursday that the toll-free number replaced a long list of parish and regional phone numbers. It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by 41 trained child welfare specialists.