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Children's Rights Inc / Mississippi DHS Share Jackpot
December 30, 2014 permalink
Children's Rights Inc is an organization that sues state foster care agencies ostensibly for the benefit of foster children, actually in collusion with the agencies. The enclosed article gives the outcome of their action in Mississippi. The state legislature is being asked for $12 million more for the Mississippi Department of Human Services to settle the suit. Not mentioned in the article, as part of every settlement Children's Rights Inc gets a share of the cash award.
Agency seeks $12 million more for foster care reforms
DHS to seek $12 million more next budget year to continue with reforms mandated by the settlement of decade-old federal lawsuit over how the state care for children in the foster care system.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services is seeking an additional $12 million next budget year to continue with reforms mandated by the settlement of a decade-old federal lawsuit over how the state cares for abused and neglected children in the state’s foster care system.
This week, the state and Children’s Rights, the New York-based children advocacy group that filed the federal lawsuit, filed in federal court an agreement setting forth the steps the state will take over the next several years to implement the requirements under the modified settlement agreement.
Children’s Rights filed the 2004 lawsuit that resulted in the 2008 agreement. The lawsuit alleged caseworkers were poorly trained and overworked and the state had a shortage of safe foster homes. Some of the state’s 3,500 foster children have been sexually abused and denied adequate medical care, the lawsuit said.
The class action, known as Olivia Y. v. Barbour, cited dangerously high caseloads, untrained caseworkers, a shortage of foster homes, and a widespread failure to provide basic health care services. A modified settlement agreement, approved in 2012, contained an action plan to address the state’s consistent failure to meet court-ordered performance standards.
However, Children’s Rights said an independent monitor determined the state was making some progress, but moving too slow in meeting goals outlined in the settlement.
The monitor was unable to make any findings about performance in approximately one third of the 33 statewide requirements because of concerns about data reliability or completeness. In the 23 areas where performance could be assessed, the Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children Services only met or exceeded portions of 10 of the requirements.
“It is deeply concerning that, ten years into this effort, the agency’s capacity issues remain profound and progress has been so limited,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, an attorney with Children’s Rights.
Mississippi has improved its data management practices, and for the first time is able to accurately report on some aspects of its performance. However, the state has not been able to produce reliable data on caseworker caseloads statewide, a critical safety measure that indicates whether a state has the capacity to effectively supervise and ensure the well-being of all children in its care, according to Children’s Rights.
During state budget hearings, Mississippi Department of Human Services Executive Director Rickey Berry said the state needs to spend an additional $12 million to meet requirements of the lawsuit.
He also said the state has seen an increase of 450 children in foster care in the past year, with many of the children entering foster care because of drug use by their biological parents.
The state had a vacancy of about 150 social workers, Berry said.
Highlights of the agreement signed Tuesday:
- •The state will complete by May 15, 2015 a written strategy for executing performance-based contracts with foster care placement providers.
- •By June 15, 2015, the state will provide the independent monitor with the scope of services that will be included in a request for proposals for emergency shelter providers.
- •By Aug. 1, 2015, the state will issue a request for proposals for emergency shelter providers.
- •By Oct. 1, 2015, the state will provide the independent court monitor with a scope of services that will be included in request for proposals for regular group home providers, therapeutic group home providers and therapeutic resource home providers.
- •By Dec. 1, 2015, the state will sign performance-based contracts with emergency shelter providers.
- •By March 1, 2016, the state will sign performance-based contracts with group home providers, therapeutic group home providers and therapeutic resource home providers.
Source: Clarion Ledger