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Baltimore City Foster Children File Contempt Motion in 1988 Consent Decree

After 20 years of noncompliance with a court order to remedy problems with Baltimore City’s foster care system, the children’s attorneys are asking the court to hold the State in contempt of court. In a sad but significant milestone in this case, on November 5, 2007, Public Justice Center attorney Rhonda Lipkin and Venable attorney Mitchell Y. Mirviss filed a motion for contempt in the U.S. District Court. The PJC and Venable represent 2,500 foster children in Baltimore City who remain without proper care.

Examples of the state’s noncompliance include:

  • The total number of foster homes has dropped by more than 55% during the past six years. As of June 30, 2007, BCDSS had only 484 regular, unrestricted foster homes available and open to all children. BCDSS lacks foster homes for every type of child—including healthy infants.
  • While the number of foster homes has plummeted, the number of children placed inappropriately in expensive group care facilities—which experts say can damage their development—rose by 99% in five years to 1,609 in 2006.
  • Baltimore City Dept. of Social Services continues to use an illegal and unlicensed office building as overnight housing because the State did not to develop emergency foster homes.
  • Almost 50% of foster children do not receive annual dental exams.
  • More than 50% of children entering foster care do not get timely health assessments. More than 60% of foster children have not had a recent physical exam.
  • Defendants failed to make mandatory monthly visits to children in one-third of continuing foster care cases in FY 2007.

The children’s attorneys are asking the Court to appoint an independent monitor as well as ordering other critical reforms, such as restoring child care benefits to foster parents and overhauling the placement and health care systems.

Following are links to a series of articles in the Baltimore Sun and the Daily Record on this significant filing.

Baltimore Sun November 8, 2007: Foster Care Report Documents Fiasco Baltimore Sun November 6, 2007: Decades Later, and Foster Kids Still Suffer Batlimore Sun November 6, 2007: City's Foster Care is Faulted
Daily Record November 5, 2007: Advocates Call for Foster Care Overhaul

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