OKLAHOMA CITY -- On March 29, New York-based Children’s Rights filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state of Texas over the care of children in its foster care system, adding to the long list of states around the country being targeted by the group.
The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has been waging its own class-action battle against Children’s Rights for several years. Upon the filing against its neighbors to the south, OKDHS was asked by members of the media to comment on the agency’s perspective of Children’s Rights and how the filing in Texas may affect Oklahoma’s case set for trial in October of this year.
Children’s Rights has consistently been critical of all child protective agencies and has a well-established history of filing class-action lawsuits around the country,” said Howard Hendrick, Director of OKDHS.
The group’s legal documents, expert reports, and press releases are nearly identical in language as the group marches from state to state, collecting tens of millions of dollars in attorney fees and placing systems under control of the federal courts for decades.
“Since February 2008, Oklahoma has spent about a million dollars a year defending itself against Children’s Rights but the costs would be greater if we did not,” said Hendrick.
In Georgia, for example, Children’s Rights sought more than $14 million in legal fees after the state entered into a consent decree. Half of that amount was to compensate the attorneys for the hours they claimed to have worked. The other $7 million they sought was an enhancement for “a job well done.” The state of Michigan spent more than $97 million to comply with the terms of their consent decree.
The Texas lawsuit has a different team of lawyers from various large firms and Children’s Rights than Oklahoma’s lawsuit. An entirely different team is now litigating in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These other lawsuits should not affect the Oklahoma lawsuit.
“In Oklahoma, Children’s Rights cannot argue with our consistent, year-to-year improvements,” said Hendrick. “We have safely reduced the number of children in state care; we have one of only nine federally-approved Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems; and we have the highest per capita finalized adoption rate in the nation over the past five years.
“The improvements we have already made are in many ways the kinds of improvement to which all states aspire. Decades-long, class-action litigation in other states has not produced the results we have achieved with our outstanding staff. The courts, prosecutors, and foster and adoptive families have all helped make this progress a reality.”
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Daily Oklahoman Editorial – April 3, 2011
Big payout is only guarantee in child welfare lawsuits
Read more: http://newsok.com/big-payout-is-only-guarantee-in-child-welfare-lawsuits/article/3554525#ixzz1IYrDYa4Q (Link opens in new window)