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Judge approves settlement in Kansas child welfare lawsuit

January 28, 2021 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge approved on Thursday a settlement that aims to fix problems in the child welfare system in Kansas.

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree said in his ruling that the agreement provides “real value” to the more than 7,000 children in the foster care system. The judge said it addresses needs identified in the lawsuit — an end to extreme housing disruption and inadequate mental health care.

While the settlement brings an end to the litigation, Crabtree retained jurisdiction to ensure that it is enforced.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in 2018 by Kansas Appleseed, Lori Burns-Bucklew, Children’s Rights and the National Center for Youth Law against the Kansas Department for Children and Families and others.

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“We’ve already begun the heavy lifting required of us to address the provisions laid out in the agreement, we know we have much work ahead of us to reinforce our commitment to Kansas children by building an effective child welfare system.,” DCF Secretary Laura Howard said in a news release.

The agreement focuses on placement stability and mental health services, including more accountability reporting and other improvements.

As part of the deal, the agency organized a placement stability workgroup and will soon offer crisis intervention services across the state.