Child welfare systems have instituted reforms in response to consent decrees, settlement agreements, and court orders resulting from class action lawsuits. On this page, find resources related to court-ordered reform in child welfare, including State and local examples.
Can You Share a Summary of Child Welfare Consent Decrees?
Casey Family Programs (2019)
Provides summaries of child welfare systems currently operating under consent decrees or settlement agreements and descriptions of child welfare systems where litigation is pending. This resource also reviews child welfare systems that have exited consent decrees, where the case was dismissed, or where the case sunset.
Advocates for improvements in child protection, foster care, and adoption through the court system, policy analysis, and public information.
Child Welfare Reform Through Class Action Litigation: Supporting Improved Outcomes for Children and Families and Pushing for Results in Child Welfare Systems
Center for the Study of Social Policy
Describes efforts to assess child welfare performance in jurisdictions under court-ordered agreements and partner with systems as they institute reforms to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families.
Reforming a System That Cannot Reform Itself: Child Welfare Reform by Class Action Lawsuits (PDF - 193 KB)
Lee, Gilbert, Lee, & Staller (2019)
Social Work, 64(4)
Summarizes the history and role of class action lawsuits and consent decrees as a means of child welfare reform. The article reviews and compares two examples of child welfare reform by consent decree.
State and Local Examples
Child Welfare Reform
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Provides information on Michigan’s efforts to reform the child welfare system since the onset of consent decree litigation and offers details on monitoring, implementation, sustainability, and more.
For the Good of the Group: Using Class Actions and Impact Litigation to Turn Child Welfare Policy into Practice in Illinois (PDF - 1,387 KB)
Children’s Legal Rights Journal, 37(2)
Examines the use of class action litigation and impact litigation as an alternative to legislative policy change in the Illinois child welfare system. The article focuses on four major reform efforts, the successes of the actions, and whether those methods of change are effective.
Foster Care Litigation
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Reviews the history of a class action lawsuit in Texas concerning foster care placements and lists related to court orders and opinions.
Lessons Learned From Child Welfare Class Action Litigation: A Case Study of Tennessee’s Reform
Center for the Study of Social Policy (2019)
Presents a case study of Tennessee, where child welfare reform happened as a result of class action litigation against the system.
M.B. V. Howard Class Action Settlement
Describes a 2020 class action lawsuit against Kansas over its treatment of youth in foster care who were subjected to housing instability, with some moving between 50 or even 100 foster homes during their time in care. The settlement will end these practices and ensure children and youth have access to mental health services.