JACKSON, MS — A federal court in Mississippi ruled today that Children’s Rights, a national children’s advocacy watchdog group, can proceed to trial against the state of Mississippi on behalf of the approximately 3,500 abused and neglected children in foster care who have sued the state for violations of their constitutional rights.
Defendants in the case include Governor Haley Barbour and Department of Human Services (DHS) head Donald Taylor. The suit charges Mississippi with failing to provide legally required safety, protection and basic health care services to thousands of abused and neglected children in state custody, and with forcing them to languish in foster care for long periods of time without the opportunity for a permanent, loving home.
“DHS has failed to protect Mississippi’s foster children for far too long, ” said Eric Thompson, lead counsel on the case and senior staff attorney at Children’s Rights, a national organization advocating for abused and neglected children. “We hope to have a trial date scheduled quickly so that necessary reforms can finally be put in place, before another child dies.”
The lawsuit charges Mississippi with failing to address longstanding problems, including dangerously overburdened and untrained caseworkers, a shortage of safe foster homes and a lack of basic health services. These problems have directly resulted in children being maltreated while in foster care, placed in many inappropriate foster homes and institutions, and forced to languish in state custody with no hope for a permanent home.
Chris Iseli or Brooks Halliday // 212.683.2210