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A New Day for Foster Children in Baltimore

October 16, 2009: In June 2009, after twenty-one years of non-compliance by the State of Maryland and the Baltimore City Department of Social Services (BCDSS) with a federal court consent decree mandating decent care for Baltimore City's more than 5,000 foster children, and eight months of intensive negotiations following Plaintiffs filing a Motion for Contempt, the State agreed to a modified consent decree. The modified consent decree requires specific corrective actions in five major areas - health, education, workforce, prevention of foster care placement, and timely permanency for children in foster care. Ten days before the hearing at which Judge J. Frederick Motz was expected to approve the consent decree, the State notified the Judge that its attorneys believed that a Supreme Court case decided in June (Horne v. Flores) robbed the court of jurisdiction (authority) to approve the new consent decree. On September 3, the State filed a motion asking the court not only to not approve the new decree but also to dismiss the entire case.

On October 9, 2009, Judge Motz, after listening to legal arguments and hearing about continuing violations of the current consent decree, strongly rejected the State's argument and denied the Motion to Vacate. He also found that entry of the new consent decree was in the public interest, and, over the State's objection, signed the new Modified Consent Decree. The Modified Consent Decree requires the State to measure and report on, with the verification of an independent expert, its compliance with the Consent Decree requirements and will permit the State, once BCDSS is compliant with all requirements for 18 months straight, to exit the Consent Decree.  The children's attorneys will actively monitor the case to ensure that this generation of Baltimore City foster children receive the care and opportunities they deserve!

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