It’s hard to imagine the abuse, trauma, and neglect children in our cases have endured. Children like Jeanine who moved through six different homes in as many years while in the Milwaukee County foster care system — in one of them, their foster father abused them to the point of needing stitches. Or siblings Danny C and Frank M, ages 7 and 4, who were unnecessarily shuttled through four different homes in one year. Danny, who has developmental needs, missed the majority of the school year.
But last week was cause for celebration as we marked a major milestone in our campaign to transform the Milwaukee County foster care system as we jointly filed with the state of Wisconsin to exit the Jeanine B. v. Evers case. Following years of significant progress—including meeting the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic —Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) has accomplished sweeping systemic change and tangible results for kids.
“We can celebrate today that our collaborative work has improved the safety, health, and well-being of vulnerable children in Milwaukee County,” Children’s Rights attorney Eric Thompson. #FosterCare #ChildWelfare https://t.co/fmNIFlCFhg —@AlisonDirr and @MSpicuzzaMJS https://t.co/Brx5UwlCza— Children’s Rights (@ChildrensRights) February 5, 2021
As a result of our advocacy in pushing for enhanced investments in community-based services, the number of children—particularly Black children—brought into foster care has decreased significantly. Caseworkers have drastically smaller caseloads and are conducting monthly face-to-face safety visits. Investigations of allegations of abuse and neglect in out-of-home care are being conducted promptly and children are receiving required medical and dental examinations on a timely basis.
Eric Thompson—who inherited the case in 1998 shortly after joining Children’s Rights—shared, “I am glad to be seeing it through to its conclusion after so many years. Years of consistent, documented improvements now allow us to recognize that court oversight has accomplished its purpose. What we set out to do has been done.”
Children’s Rights never does this work alone. We share this victory with the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Wisconsin, Gray, Plant, Mooty, Mooty & Bennett, P.A., and Dorsey & Whitney LLP who all work tirelessly to create a better world for children.