Building the Case

Our reform campaigns seek to safeguard the rights of children — and bring about long-overdue changes in the systems that are supposed to protect them.

Once we have thoroughly investigated a failing child welfare system and determined that legal action is necessary to bring about its reform, our campaign begins in full force. In cooperation with local advocates, attorneys, and other partners, we file a lawsuit — usually a class action and usually in federal court — on behalf of children affected by the child welfare system in question. What we seek is a court order protecting these children from further violations of their rights — and compelling the officials who run the system to fix its problems at last.

After we file a lawsuit, our legal team continues to build the case for a court order mandating the overhaul of the system — and fights all the legal battles necessary to create a solid foundation for court-enforceable reform. We demand and receive internal documentation from the child welfare system detailing its operations. We take sworn testimony from the officials who run the system and their employees. We engage independent experts to review hundreds of children’s case records and the system’s internal documents to identify the systemic problems that put them at risk and offer solutions for fixing them.

Throughout this process, we continue to meet with child advocates, children’s families, foster parents, former foster children, school officials, attorneys, judges, service providers, and social workers — who provide us with critical information and updates about the system so that we can create an accurate picture of how it functions and where it is failing.

As information about the system’s failures is made public, officials may initiate discussions that can lead to a settlement. However, if those in charge refuse to make a binding commitment to take the steps necessary to fix the problems, we do everything we need to do to prepare the case for trial.

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