Children’s Rights and co-counsel are preparing for a December trial in Texas. M.D. v. Perry asserts that massive structural failures in Texas’ child welfare system place the 12,000 kids in the state system of long-term foster care at unreasonable risk of physical and psychological harm.
Children’s Rights recently presented oral arguments to a panel of judges at the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. CR and local counsel Nutter, McClennen & Fish brought the class action against Massachusetts’ Department of Children and Families (DCF) on behalf of all children in state care.
Lead Counsel Sara Bartosz argued that the district court erroneously held vulnerable children, who are wholly dependent on the state for their safety and well-being, to a standard of constitutional proof no less burdensome than that used to assess the rights of incarcerated felons. She also maintained that the district court disregarded case law by using lack of funding to excuse constitutional violations and cast aside its own sweeping findings of problems plaguing DCF.
As we await a decision, the state is still failing on a number of critical foster care measures. Recently released interim data from the Children’s Bureau showed that Massachusetts ranked last among 48 reporting states on maltreatment in foster care. In addition, 14 percent of kids in Massachusetts who were abused or neglected were re-victimized within a year, fifth worst among 48 reporting states.
Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: