WI - Jeanine B. v. Walker
At the time the complaint was filed, there were 15 named plaintiffs, including Jeanine B., Danny C., and Frank M.
Jeanine B., a 12-year-old girl at the time of filing, drifted for more than six years between six different foster homes. In one home where she lived with 11 other children, she was struck by her foster father with a plastic container with enough force to necessitate stitches.
Danny C. and Frank M., brothers ages 7 and 4, were cycled through four different homes in less than a year before being placed back in the original foster home from which they had been unnecessarily removed. Danny, who is developmentally delayed, did not attend school for nearly an entire year because defendants failed to provide the necessary information to have him enrolled.
U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee)
FILED: June 1, 1993; Supplemental Complaint, June 2, 1999
SETTLEMENT REACHED: December 2, 2002
Children’s Rights, along with co-counsel the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Wisconsin, Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A. and Dorsey & Whitney LLP, prosecuted this case against the Governor of Wisconsin on behalf of all Milwaukee children in child welfare custody. The Complaint and Supplemental Complaint alleged violations of children’s constitutional and federal statutory rights. The parties settled the case in 2002. Through the Settlement Agreement and ongoing monitoring and enforcement efforts, Children’s Rights has helped spur substantial reforms in Milwaukee:
- As of 2014, the rate of abuse in care was at only 0.24 percent, with an impressive 98 percent of children visited monthly by their case managers.
- On average each month in 2014, only 27 percent of children in out-of-home care had been in care for 24 months or more, compared to 63 percent in 2003.
- In 2014, 34 percent of adoptions were completed within 24 months of children entering care, up from 14 percent in 2003.
- Of the children who went into foster care in 2014, only 6 percent did so within 12 months of a prior out-of-home care episode.
- Caseloads – which formerly could exceed 100 children per caseworker – averaged 15 children in 2014, within professional standards.
State officials are continuing to implement an agreed-upon corrective action plan aimed at bringing the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) into full compliance with the requirements of the settlement agreement. As the most recent Semi-Annual Settlement Agreement Report shows, the BMCW has yet to comply with the final unfulfilled settlement requirement on placement stability. While 87 percent of children in foster care experienced three or fewer placements in the previous 36 months as of 2014, defendants need to reach 90 percent compliance before they are eligible to exit monitoring and enforcement. Until that time, Children’s Rights will continue to review compliance data and contact stakeholders as we work to move the state toward completing promised reforms for children.