Victory for Rhode Island’s Children: Fairness Hearing Brings Resolution to Long-Standing Foster Care Case

Court Approves Historic Agreement to Greatly Improve the Lives of Children in State Care

Contact: Daniel Kessel, 646-216-3343, dkessel@childrensrights.org

(Providence, RI) – Following a fairness hearing held on Wednesday, May 9th, a federal court in Providence has approved the settlement agreement in a longstanding class action to greatly improve practices and outcomes for children in state care.

“This momentous settlement is the result of years of hard work from all parties,” said Sandy Santana, executive director for Children’s Rights. “Rhode Island’s most vulnerable children will be safer because of these critical reforms.”

As detailed in the settlement, the state will work toward achieving benchmarks in 12 areas to significantly improve the treatment of children in foster care. These include:

  • Children will no longer be put in short-term shelters under any circumstances. Children who require short-term therapeutic placements will have documented written approval for longer stays.
  • Reformed assessment process: Children entering foster care will be assured an assessment that helps match them with a family or placement that adequately meets their needs.
  • Siblings will remain together. At least 80% of siblings entering state care will be placed together except in cases where doing so would be harmful to one or more of the siblings.
  • Proper investigation into allegations of abuse or neglect. Reports of maltreatment in foster care will be reviewed in a timely manner and investigations will be responded to effectively and completed within appropriate timeframes.

Additionally, a monitoring team comprised of the Office of the Child Advocate and an external expert will provide independent reporting and verification on the state’s progress and performance.

“More than 10 years ago, I was proud to be a part of commencing this action,” said John Dineen, a Providence-based attorney on the case. “Today marks an important milestone: our state has the opportunity to turn its child welfare system around and better protect the children in its care.”

“We are most grateful to state leadership for this agreement and look forward to the promised reforms becoming a reality for kids,” said Elizabeth Pittman Gretter, senior staff attorney for Children’s Rights.

National advocacy organization Children’s Rights filed Andrew C. v. Raimondo in 2007 with Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Rhode Island attorney John Dineen on behalf of the some 1,900 children living in state custody. The lawsuit pointed to failings in the state’s child welfare system, which consistently violated children’s federal rights and put them at risk of harm.

###

Children’s Rights: Every day, children are harmed by America’s broken child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and healthcare systems. Through relentless strategic advocacy and legal action, we hold governments accountable for keeping kids safe and healthy. Children’s Rights, a national non-profit organization, has made a lasting impact for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children. For more information, please visit www.childrensrights.org.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is among the world’s most prestigious international law firms, advising clients globally on their most complex litigation, corporate, restructuring and tax and benefits matters. Weil’s award-winning Pro Bono practice implements the Firm’s deeply held believe that contributing to the legal representation of the less fortunate and unjustly treated in our society is among the highest values a law firm can hold. For more information, please visit www.weil.com.

John Dineen is a longtime civil rights attorney and advocate for the citizens of Rhode Island who has handled many plaintiffs’ issues in federal court.

 

Can you make a difference today by donating to Children’s Rights? Your gift will sponsor urgent legal action and national advocacy.

My name is Candice, and I used to be in foster care.
I support Children’s Rights and hope you will too.