Agreement filed in court to address ongoing Texas foster care problems – Riverside, California

Riverside, California 2021-10-24 17:34:28 –

Paul Yetter, chief lawyer for the foster care case, said KVUE’s children are staying in places that are not well-equipped to take care of them.

Austin, Texas — Agreement Texas Health and Human Services (HHSC), Texas Family Protection Services Authority (DFPS) and plaintiffs were filed in the US District Court on Friday to come up with a solution to the ongoing foster parenting problem in the state.

last month, A new report outlining the problem of unplaced children (CWOP) Within the system, it shows that the problem has worsened since 2015, when the foster parent system was determined to be unconstitutional.

Paul Yetter, chief lawyer for the foster care case, said KVUE’s children are staying in places that are not well-equipped to take care of them.

“In the first half of this year, more than 500 children stayed at least one night in an unlicensed state facility,” said Yetter. “In other words, office meeting rooms, hotels, churches, other places without the right caregivers and the right kind of environment for them.”

These unlicensed state facilities include hotels, churches, shelters, and even caseworker offices.

“The state is aware that this is as bad as it is now, and it’s getting worse,” Yetter added. “”[The] The lives of these children are at stake, and the state needs to focus on it and fix it. “

At a meeting in court on September 14, officials agreed that the issue was due to “a continuous gap in proper service and placement in Texas.”

According to court filings, the parties agreed to the following seven provisions:

  1. A panel of three independent, nationally respected child welfare professionals will come together to understand, evaluate and recommend potential improvements. This panel consists of an expert selected by the plaintiff, an expert selected by the defendant, and a third expert jointly selected by two experts designated by the parties.
  2. The Expert Panel will start working as soon as it is selected. It works with HHSC, DFPS, plaintiffs’ lawyers, and monitor representatives. That work includes access to all available data and non-privileged information maintained by the defendant related to this issue. The expert panel decides if the data is relevant. It will determine how to perform the task and give you complete and quick access to the defendant’s relevant data as you perform the task. Defendants may claim legal privilege if the scope of their request for data or information by the panel of experts includes legally privileged material. The work of the expert panel may be assisted by staff selected by the expert panel, at the reasonable discretion of its members. The costs of that work, including the work of the staff, will be paid by the plaintiff from the court’s first attorney’s fee ruling to the funds currently entrusted for the class by the plaintiff’s private law attorney, and to that extent. Defendants are not obligated to pay any costs or fees incurred by the expert or its staff. Conditions that provide a more detailed description of the duration and scope of the involvement of expert panel members are provided in the agreed involvement letter.
  3. The expert panel and the parties maintain the confidentiality of the non-privileged data provided by the defendant and the work products developed by the expert panel. However, unless such data is obtained by legitimate means other than the work of the expert panel. Members and staff of the Expert Panel will, in this case, implement the confidentiality provisions previously approved by the court before starting work (Amendmental Protection Order entered on 12 July 2012). [ECF No. 138] (“Protection order”)). All parties agree that each expert is a “qualified person” as the term is defined in the protection order. All meetings, data, discussions, and deliberations attended by the Expert Panel or its staff are confidential and subject to protection orders.
  4. Courts and monitors have full access to all data and work products reviewed by the panel of experts. Monitors and their staff are subject to the current confidentiality protocol previously approved by the court. The confidentiality obligations of both parties do not bind the court in any way.
  5. Data and work products developed by the Expert Panel may be used by members and parties of the Expert Panel for this engagement purpose only. The parties have the right to review the data and non-privileged information reviewed or reviewed by experts in making recommendations without waiving their privileged or protected claims. This cooperation between the parties falls under Federal Evidence Rule 408. Therefore, neither the work products of the Expert Panel nor the data provided in accordance with this Agreement can be relied upon in legal, administrative, or other proceedings by the parties or members of the Expert Panel. Also, without agreement between all parties, no member of the Expert Panel will be called by any party to testify in this proceeding. This commitment by the parties not to call members of the Expert Panel, except as agreed by the parties, does not bind the court.
  6. The Panel of Experts will work with the State as soon as possible, preferably by December 15, 2021, to develop a plan containing specific and specific recommendations to the parties and observers regarding CWOP. increase. Parties agree that the plan may be shared with the courts. Through the court monitor.
  7. The recommendations of the expert panel are advice. Defendant promises to work in good faith with the panel of experts and consider the recommendations, but Defendant is not obliged to accept all or part of the recommendations and the recommendations do not impose any obligation on Defendant. Within 15 days of receiving the expert panel’s recommendations, the parties, members of the expert panel, and monitors are convened at the meeting to discuss the recommendations, the defendant notifies the plaintiff, and the court observer recommends. Accept all or part of the and monitor if you intend to do so. Representatives of both parties at the meeting shall include plaintiff-class attorneys, each defendant’s attorney, and agency leaders, including the Secretaries of DFPS and HHSC. Disclosure to the Expert Panel or its members does not give the defendant any waiver of privilege or protection. Nothing in this Agreement extends or limits the scope of this proceeding or the injunction entered in it.

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