Group files foster care lawsuit against Mass.

Group files foster care lawsuit against Mass.

Published April 15, 2010
| AP

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BOSTON (AP) — A national children’s advocacy group has filed a federal class action lawsuit against Massachusetts alleging the abuse and neglect of thousands of children in state care.

The New York-based group Children’s Rights said it filed the case in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Thursday seeking changes on behalf of about 8,500 children in foster care statewide.

The lawsuit named six child plaintiffs, identified only by their first name and last initial, who advocates said have been badly harmed in foster care. The group is being represented by the Boston law firm of Nutter McClennen & Fish.

The lawsuit alleges that the state Department of Children and Families violated children’s constitutional rights by placing them in dangerous and unstable situations.

The department issued a statement in response to the lawsuit saying it shares the goal of protecting children, and said the lawsuit will force it to spend scarce dollars defending itself instead of using the money to help families.

“The Patrick-Murray administration has made the protection and care of children a top priority,” the department said. “We have increased the number of children being safely cared for at home, met and exceeded the national standard for timeliness to adoption and reunification, and better supported our transition age youth.”

Advocates say any improvements haven’t gone nearly far enough to fix the system. The lawsuit alleges that the rate at which children in foster care in Massachusetts suffer abuse in state-supervised foster homes and institutions is nearly four times the national rate.

The suit also says that the rate at which foster children are shuffled from home to home is unacceptable. Advocates say a third of children in state foster care are moved at least five times during their time in state custody.

“Kids move from home to home to home with incredible frequency,” said Sara Bartosz, senior staff attorney for Children’s Rights. “Once kids are in foster care they are not making it back home or into other permanent families with any kind of timeliness.”

She said the state has also failed to adequately prepare and support families to be reunified with their children.

Bartosz said the state could decide to litigate the lawsuit or instead agree to a court-ordered oversight of the child welfare system.

The lawsuit isn’t the first the organization has filed.

Children’s Rights has also filed lawsuits in past years against Connecticut, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia, Tennessee, Washington D.C.

Some of those lawsuits have dragged on for decades.

Connecticut on Tuesday asked a federal court to end 20 years of federal oversight of its child welfare agency, prompted by a class action lawsuit filed by the group in 1989.

The state argued that is has made significant progress toward reducing caseloads, expanding the agency’s budget and making more services available to troubled families. Activists said it’s premature to withdraw federal oversight there.

Erik Pitchal, an assistant clinical professor of law at Suffolk University, said the fact that the lawsuits can linger for decades isn’t unusual, given the entrenched nature of the problems. Pitchal used to work for Children’s Rights and still collaborates with the group.

“Governors come and go. In order to have sustained reform it often takes the persistence of lawyers working for children and the involvement of the federal court,” he said. “There are no quick fixes

About yvonnemason

Background:  The eldest of five children, Yvonne was born May 17, 1951 in Atlanta, Georgia. Raised in East Point, Georgia, she moved to Jackson County, Ga. until 2006 then moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida where she currently makes her home.  Licensed bounty hunter for the state of Georgia. Education:  After a 34 year absence, returned to college in 2004. Graduated with honors in Criminal Justice with an Associate’s degree from Lanier Technical College in 2006. Awards:  Nominated for the prestigious GOAL award in 2005 which encompasses all of the technical colleges. This award is based not only on excellence in academics but also leadership, positive attitude and the willingness to excel in one’s major. Affiliations:  Beta Sigma Phi Sorority  Member of The Florida Writer’s Association – Group Leader for St Lucie County The Dream:  Since learning to write at the age of five, Yvonne has wanted to be an author. She wrote her first novel Stan’s Story beginning in 1974 and completed it in 2006. Publication seemed impossible as rejections grew to 10 years. Determined, she continued adding to the story until her dream came true in 2006. The Inspiration:  Yvonne’s brother Stan has been her inspiration and hero in every facet of her life. He was stricken with Encephalitis at the tender age of nine months. He has defied every roadblock placed in his way and has been the driving force in every one of her accomplishments. He is the one who taught her never to give up The Author: Yvonne is currently the author of several novels, including:  Stan’s Story- the true story of her brother’s accomplishments, it has been compared to the style of Capote, and is currently being rewritten with new information for re-release.  Tangled Minds - a riveting story about a young girl’s bad decision and how it taints everyone’s life around her yet still manages to show that hope is always possible. This novel has been compared to the writing of Steinbeck and is currently being written as a screenplay. This novel will be re-released by Kerlak Publishing in 2009  Brilliant Insanity – released by Kerlak Publishing October 2008  Silent Scream – Released by October 2008- Slated to be made into a movie Yvonne’s Philosophy in Life - “Pay it Forward”: “In this life we all have been helped by others to attain our dreams and goals. We cannot pay it back but what we can do is ‘pay it forward’. It is a simple
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6 Responses to Group files foster care lawsuit against Mass.

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Group files foster care lawsuit against Mass. « How Child Protection Services Buys and Sells Our Children --

  2. jerry says:

    The truth is that after several moves, these children often end up in orphanages. I ended up in a Catholic orphanage and, like so many of the other boys there was repeatedly molested. . . Isn’t the D.S.S. responsible for allowing children to be placed directly in front of a pedophile?


  3. kindness says:

    I live in canton ohio I have 2 kids in foster care I have a public defender he is no help to me on my case he is no help to my 2 kids we have to stop cps & family court we have to all come together in all states cps is all about money my worker on my case she lie way too much she has to be stopped my 2 kids are suffering in the foster home I would like for any to contact me form ohio my e-mail is cps dont care about our kids cps need a lot of there funding cut Im looking for me a good fighting attorney I need help saving my 2 kids from being put up for adoption / sale we all have to keep fighting against cps to bring all of our kids home safe I need anyone to contact me right now aspa thanks


  4. Marybeth says:

    i am a mother that has her youngest Sons on foster care. they have a unsupported case against me and still has changed my goal to adoption even though I’ve been following all the tasks they’ve given to me. my social worker admitted she never helped reunifi my family. I’m being railroaded Anna have been so scared


  5. melanie long says:

    Please please please, we need help. We just had a baby girl and tested postive and yes i have been struggling with addiction after the death of my husband, I finally fell in love with a man who truely loves me and my other daughter and i relapsed two days before the birth of my daughter, and after testing positive they whipped in and took her with out any other options, i asked if i could go into rehab with my daughter and after being told yes i could go into rehab with her so she wouldnt go into foster care, but they lied and came in and took her into foster care while i was still trying to find a rehab, never offering the father any options to his daughter, also to add the father is not just a baby daddy, hes my fiance and has and continues to stand by me as we speak, but not married. Can any one help us with where to turn to next , with a attorney or advise, anything. Pleaee please please. 501 478 5555 melanie or stephen 501 358 8764 please no hate calls or disrespect , we love our daughter and just want help. I made a mistake and continue to pay for my mistakes, all i want is to get right and make things right for our family. Thank you.


  6. Rhonda says:

    I am in a the same situation ad i just read and they have used all the dirty little tricks to take my nephews,thier father passed away and there was no will so it was a down hill battle for my sister she lived in a small town she struggled with addiction and he had medication there from the cancer and she relapsed when the kids dad passed and went to jail and the cps worker called me i got the was good at first i had good workers that visited and came to the home and therapy and the kids did good..then in court the jugde orded unsupervised visits we were thinking the kids we going home ..all along they had a plan ..when my sis picked them up for a unsupervised visit ..the cps worker took the kids from me i never got a day in court to plead my case and they have treated me like crap..and told me my nephews has a bond with a new family ..well ..they told them we didnt want them..told so many lies..told family the kids didnt know thier last name and that they were prostitute babys…and these kids had a family life a 250,000home ,a dad we all went on vacations sister and i cooked thanksgiving dinner and i kept the kids on hollidays..the kids were her world and she has gave up..she lost her man ..her house..her kids..she dont care..and they never tried to help us..the worker thats taken them was never in my home..when i had them or after and shes been to my sisters twice..she just wanted to take the kids.


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