Massachusetts (Connor B. v. Patrick)
Citing one of the nation’s highest rates of abuse of children in foster care and other persistent and severe problems throughout the Massachusetts child welfare system, the national advocacy group Children’s Rights and Boston law firm Nutter McClennen & Fish LLP – with the support of advocates and families throughout the state — filed a class action in federal court on April 15, 2010, seeking broad reform on behalf of 8,500 abused and neglected children statewide.
Naming six child plaintiffs who have been badly harmed in Massachusetts foster care, the lawsuit (known as Connor B. v. Patrick) charges the state’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) with violating the constitutional rights of children by routinely placing them in dangerous and unstable situations once removed from their parents’ care and failing to take necessary actions to meet the legal obligation of the state-run child welfare system to ensure the safety and well-being of children in its custody.
According to the children’s complaint, the rate at which children in Massachusetts foster care suffer abuse in state-supervised foster homes and institutions is nearly four times the national standard. DCF further traumatizes children by moving them frequently between foster placements; one-third of children in state foster care get shuffled around to at least five different placements during their time in state custody, according to the complaint. The complaint also points to the state’s decade-long failure to adequately prepare and support families to be successfully reunified with their children in foster care.