31-year-old class-action lawsuit ends in settlement with the city


(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

WASHINGTON (WDVM) — District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the end of a 31-year-old class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of children who relied on the District’s foster care system.

“This exit from court oversight recognizes our commitment to protecting our most vulnerable children and exemplifies our DC values. It says that as a community, we’re dedicated to making sure our families get the services they need to keep their children safe and well,” said Mayor Bowser.

According to a press release from the Mayor’s office, LaShawn A. v. Bowser ended in a settlement with the city after an agreement was reached by all parties. The settlement was also affirmed as fair, reasonable and adequate by United States District Court Judge Thomas Hogan.

Mayor Bowser said, “With a steadfast focus on family, love, and prevention, I am proud that CFSA has transformed into a national leader in the child welfare space. I want to thank Director Brenda Donald and the CFSA staff for their commitment to our children, our families and community stakeholders for their support, and also the Office of the Attorney General and the Plaintiff’s Counsel for their partnership in getting us to today.”

The District has taken steps to strengthen its child welfare system over the past three decades, including establishing the D.C. Family Court and the Child and Family Services Agency as a cabinet-level agency, founding the Healthy Families/Thriving Communities Collaboratives network and more.

Attorney General Karl Racine issued a statement following the announcement that the lawsuit was over. He said, “Today is a critical step for the District and our most vulnerable residents – abused and neglected children – and I’m proud we were able to help CFSA achieve this milestone. Just in the past year and a half, my office has concluded two-decades-long cases involving court administered reforms of District agencies – both of which centered around children – allowing the District to operate efficiently to protect and serve the District’s most vulnerable children,” said AG Racine. “The reforms at CFSA will help protect children, but the work isn’t done. The agency must continue providing robust in-home services whenever possible to help reduce the trauma and impact on children caused by removal from their families and placement in foster care.”

If there are no concerns from the plaintiffs about CFSA’s compliance with the settlement, it will expire at the end of June 2022.

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