In the Courtroom

Children’s Rights is in the midst of a hard-fought battle to bring reform to Texas’ ailing foster care system.

CR staff take a rare break in Corpus Christi during the 2-week-long trial of  M.D. v. Perry.

CR staff take a rare break in Corpus Christi during the 2-week-long trial of M.D. v. Perry.

In December, the trial of M.D. v. Perry was conducted before Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack. Together with Texas law firms Yetter Coleman and Haynes and Boone LLP, CR presented numerous witnesses, including former caseworkers, children’s family court attorneys and former foster children themselves. They recounted how deficiencies like burdensome caseloads, too few foster homes and poor oversight of licensed providers hurt children in the very system intended to protect them.

The former foster youth vividly recalled how unstable placements caused them lasting emotional harm, and made their transitions into adulthood extraordinarily challenging. D.J. testified that he had been through “35, 40” placements since he was a baby, with six months being the longest he stayed in any one place. He said he was given no preparation before he aged out of state care. “I didn’t have a circle [of] support, I didn’t have ID, driver’s license, I didn’t have anything, nothing.”

Patricia told the court that when she tried to report being sexually abused in a foster home, she was told, ‘okay, we’ll investigate it,’ but “nothing happened.” She said she would consider her “experience of being sexually abused at a very young age typical of foster care.”

Crystal said while she was in care, she was abused by foster parents and children, and barely saw her caseworkers. “I know that there [are] children who are in foster care right now who are experiencing what I experienced … things can change for them.”

Closing arguments for the class action lawsuit are scheduled for May.

Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: