Where we’re fighting hardest for children right now.
Children’s Rights constantly monitors child welfare systems across the United States, investigating those that appear to be putting children in danger and taking action to reform the ones that are causing serious harm.
Here’s where we’re focusing our efforts most intensely right now.
Win Ensures Oklahoma Foster Care Will Be Transformed
In a landmark victory for Oklahoma and its children, a federal judge approved a settlement earlier this year – resolving a 4-year old lawsuit brought by Children’s Rights and Tulsa-based law firm Frederic Dowart Lawyers – that will vastly improve care for the state’s 9,700 foster kids.
The lawsuit targeted systemic problems in Oklahoma’s child welfare system. The state has historically been among the worst in the nation for maltreatment of children in foster care. Children are frequently shunted between placements and kids as young as babies are placed in overcrowded shelters.
“Can you imagine having to sue a state agency to stop them from leaving babies lined up in cribs in shelters? That is what we had to do,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.
Thanks to the Children’s Rights lawsuit, there is hope for the foster children of Oklahoma. The settlement agreement yields a court-enforceable roadmap for three independent child welfare experts to ensure the state reduces maltreatment, recruits more quality foster homes, lowers caseloads, and places more children in permanent, loving homes.
“This is a complex, long-term solution that will make a meaningful, transformational difference for Oklahoma’s at-risk children,” State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, told the Oklahoman newspaper. See the latest here.
Children’s Rights In The Courtroom
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Texas have failing child welfare systems in desperate need of top-to-bottom reform. Children’s Rights has filed suit in these states to ensure foster children are protected.
Massachusetts fails to protect the approximately 7,500 children in its foster care system. The state ranks amongst the bottom 10 in the country when it comes to the rate of maltreatment of foster children, as well as the stability of their placements. In addition, kids in foster care are prescribed psychotropic medications roughly four times as often as those outside of foster care on Medicaid.
Systemic problems with Rhode Island’s child welfare system are harming the approximately 3,000 children in its care. The state consistently ranks as one of the worst on the rate of neglect and abuse of children in foster care and placement of children in group homes and shelters. In 2010, nearly 10 percent of all Rhode Island kids who experienced abuse or neglect were maltreated again within 6 months. The system also fails to ensure children receive necessary medical, mental health and educational services.
A child entering the Texas child welfare system has, at best, 18 months to be adopted or reunified with their birth family before entering a long term arrangement known as permanent foster care. More than 10,000 children were in this situation as of 2011, an increase of more than 2,000 over the prior decade. Far too many of these kids never return to their families or get adopted, and instead grow up in state custody, moving from place to place.
Most of our lawsuits end with settlement agreements and a mandate for massive reform. Children’s Rights, along with independent monitors, ensures the reform goals won on behalf of children and families are met.
Connecticut has reduced by 63 percent the number of children under the age of 12 in group homes and institutions.
Ninety-one percent of all case managers in Metropolitan Atlanta now have an assigned caseload of children that is within the strict limits of our settlement.
Michigan has hired more than 700 new caseworkers, established a centralized hotline for abuse and neglect reports and ensured that young people aging out of care have access to health insurance.
The Milwaukee child welfare system is just one goal away from meeting all of the reform provisions of its historic settlement with Children’s Rights.
Approximately 90 percent of all foster children in New Jersey are being placed with families or in family-like settings thanks in part to the state exceeding the foster home recruitment goals of our settlement.