This compendium of papers shows how class action litigation can reform public child welfare systems. The papers are written so policymakers, agency administrators, lawyers and judges can make more informed decisions during class action suits and come out with better practices and policies for the welfare of the child. It also presents challenges through case studies and discusses the funding aspect of such litigation.
The challenges of Implementing Change in Litigated Child Welfare Reform
Findings & Stats
Do No Harm
The key mission of state and local child welfare agencies is to protect children from harm.
For over 40 years, class action lawsuits have been the #1 strategy for holding public child welfare systems accountable and addressing long-standing problems.
Many states have spent decades in the courts, diverting staff and other resources to the defense of class action lawsuits.
The authors don’t agree on the merits of litigation as a vehicle for improving child welfare systems.
The “lessons learned” that are highlighted in this series can be applied to initiating lawsuits, pending litigation and how to bring existing lawsuits to successful conclusion.
Statements & Quotations
In each of these cases both the plaintiffs and the defendants wanted to achieve the same high level of performance and positive outcomes for children and families. Finding ways to capture and build on the shared goals has allowed jurisdictions to take advantage of the positive attributes of litigation and minimize the negatives.
The jurisdictions that achieved the most success were able to balance expectations in order to provide time to build the infrastructure before expecting to see significant improvement in child and family outcomes, sometimes after one or several false starts and prolonged periods of frustration and non-compliance.
Court orders must be able to respond to new understandings and changing internal and external conditions and must incorporate changes based on experience and data analysis. The case studies of successful litigation-driven reform efforts demonstrate the importance.
The fact is that children of color are more likely to enter foster care in the United States. Once in care, they also receive fewer supports, have higher occurrences of placement changes, remain in care for longer periods of time and are less likely to be adopted or reunited with their families.
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