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.
Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: