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Statement on 5th Circuit Court ruling on Texas foster care lawsuit

We are pleased to see the 5th Circuit’s decision to uphold many of the district court’s orders for repairing foster care in Texas, including improved responses to foster children’s abuse allegations, record keeping, training and reporting on child sexual abuse.

However, we are disappointed about the decision to invalidate many of the remedies, especially in regard to caseload management and establishment of a 24-hour hotline for foster children to report abuse. As the 5th Circuit majority itself noted, the district court’s original ruling came in response to the state’s failure to self-correct, especially because the state knew about the system’s failures long before the plaintiffs filed suit.

The 5th Circuit majority narrowed the district court’s prescriptions for change to what it believes is the bare minimum necessary to avoid violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights. We sincerely hope the state will not interpret that as the bare minimum necessary to properly care for our state’s most vulnerable children.

When the state is put in the unfortunate position of being these children’s parent, it must do what most any parent would do: Seek the safest and best possible future for that child. This will not be achieved by the bare constitutional minimum.

Posted on October 18, 2018.

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