Wisconsin Closes in on Final Benchmark of Foster Care Reform Plan

Eric Thompson, Senior Litigation Counsel for Children’s Rights, released the following statement in response to the latest progress report on the reform of Milwaukee’s child welfare system:

Over the last decade the Wisconsin Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) has made life-changing improvements for kids in its foster care system. Leaders have dramatically cut the rate of abuse and neglect in care, the amount of time kids spend there and the number of children on workers’ caseloads. These advances mean Milwaukee’s kids are safer and getting more of the attention they need and deserve. Now leaders must concentrate even harder on reducing the number of times kids are shuffled through foster care placements. If Milwaukee puts concerted effort into reaching this last milestone, it will be even closer to running one of the strongest child welfare systems in the country.

Children’s Rights and co-counsel filed the federal class action known as Jeanine B. v. Walker in 1993, charging that the Milwaukee child welfare system was grossly mismanaged and failed to protect children in its care. A court-enforceable settlement agreement mandating an overhaul of the child welfare system was reached in 2002. State officials are currently implementing a Corrective Action Plan aimed at bringing BMCW into full compliance with the requirements of the settlement agreement.