Bayou Community Foundation Releases Community Needs Assessment

Mental Health Care, Hunger and Housing are identified as the most critical needs in Lafourche, Terrebonne and Grand Isle.

Bayou Community Foundation is strategically working with donors and community partners to fill these and other critical needs through grants to nonprofits, advocacy and our new Working Groups on Behavioral Health and Hunger.

Read the Full Report:  2023 BCF Community Needs Assessment

Behavioral health care, food insecurity and housing are three of the most critical humanitarian needs in Lafourche Parish, Terrebonne Parish and Grand Isle, according to a community needs assessment released today by the Bayou Community Foundation.  Through its annual nonprofit grants program and donor-directed grants, and leadership in community collaboration and advocacy, the Foundation is strategically working to fill these needs, strengthen community resources, and elevate the lives of local residents.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, which traumatized residents who experienced the storm’s ferocity, left thousands homeless, and exacerbated an already heightened need for food after the pandemic, we are not surprised that mental health, food insecurity and housing remain some of our community’s most critical challenges,” said Bayou Community Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Armand.

“Our greatest strength as a community, however, is the compassion and commitment of our people to work together to tackle our greatest challenges.  Fueled by this generosity and spirit of collaboration, Bayou Community Foundation is partnering with nonprofits, donors, and government and business leaders to address these needs that directly impact the health and well-being of local residents. Together, we will build a Lafourche, Terrebonne and Grand Isle community where all can thrive,” she said.

Priority categories of need in Lafourche, Terrebonne and Grand Isle identified in the assessment include:

• Mental Health Care and Substance Use Disorder Treatment

• Food Insecurity and Healthy Food Access

• Housing Availability, Affordability and Recovery

• Building Equitable and Resilient Communities Where All Adults and Youth Can Thrive, which includes enrichment programs for youth, access to health care, and workforce development

• Nonprofit Collaborations and Community Resources

Bayou Community Foundation launched this Community Needs Assessment in August 2023 to better understand emerging and expanding needs in our Bayou Region since Hurricane Ida’s landfall here in 2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic.  The assessment, funded with grants from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation and American Red Cross – Louisiana Region, was also designed to identify nonprofits engaged in filling these needs, service gaps that remain and explore nonprofit and community-wide collaborations that may help fill those gaps.  Nearly 200 grantees, donors, partners and community leaders participated in surveys and focus groups to identify community needs and strengths.  Desk research by consulting firm Empower for Good, LLC provided extensive data to support the contributions of local stakeholders.

Mental health care and substance use disorder treatment was ranked by survey and focus group participants as the top humanitarian need in the region, and data supports the need for increased providers in our area, expanded access to timely and affordable care, and tools that promote the importance of behavioral health and allow residents to better see the care available to them.

According to the 2023 Community Needs Assessment, the Bayou Region has an estimated 63.8 mental health providers for every 100,000 residents, a figure much lower than the state average (138.5 per 100,000) and the nation (126 per 100,000). A total of 39.1% of area adults report experiences of chronic depression, and suicide rates are higher here (16 per 100,000 people) compared to the rest of the nation (14 per 100,000).

In an effort to improve access to behavioral health care, Bayou Community Foundation has launched a Working Group on Behavioral Health and hosted the first-ever Bayou Region Behavioral Health Summit on April 30, attended by 120 local behavioral health care providers, nonprofits, government agencies and other stakeholders.  The group is now working on a project to increase awareness of existing local services for mental health care and substance use disorder treatment, help residents navigate the care chain, and remove the stigma associated with accessing care.  The Foundation has opened a Behavioral Health Fund, supported by contributions from donors, to provide grants to fund nonprofit programs serving this need.

The Foundation has also convened a Hunger Summit and Working Group on Hunger to promote collaboration among local food banks and other nonprofits to most effectively feed those in need in our community.  Bayou Community Foundation’s successful Hurricane Ida Housing Recovery programs in Dulac, South Lafourche and Grand Isle have had a profound impact on the need for housing following the storm, with construction of 53 homes and the repair of 500 for under-resourced storm survivors in these hard-hit communities through June 2024.

In addition, the findings of the 2023 Community Needs Assessment are driving Bayou Community Foundation’s 2024 Annual Nonprofit Grants Program, with over $300,000 in grant awards to be announced this summer.

Read the Full Report: 2023 BCF Community Needs Assessment