(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the end of court oversight and monitoring in LaShawn A. v. Bowser, a 31-year-old class action lawsuit filed in 1989 on behalf of children who relied on the District's foster care system. A settlement agreement was reached by all parties, and a virtual fairness hearing before United States District Court Judge Thomas Hogan this morning affirmed the settlement fair, reasonable, and adequate.
“This exit from court oversight recognizes our commitment to protecting our most vulnerable children and exemplifies our DC values. It says that as a community, we're dedicated to making sure our families get the services they need to keep their children safe and well,” said Mayor Bowser. “With a steadfast focus on family, love, and prevention, I am proud that CFSA has transformed into a national leader in the child welfare space. I want to thank Director Brenda Donald and the CFSA staff for their commitment to our children, our families and community stakeholders for their support, and also the Office of the Attorney General and the Plaintiff's Counsel for their partnership in getting us to today.”
For the past three decades, the District has taken great steps to strengthen its child welfare system, including the establishment of the DC Family Court and the Child and Family Services Agency as a Cabinet-level agency; founding of the Healthy Families/Thriving Communities Collaboratives network; development of the values-based Four Pillars strategic framework; approval of the District's federal Five-Year Family First Prevention Plan; and implementation of the robust city-wide prevention strategy, Families First DC, which included the opening of ten Family Success Centers to provide critical services to residents in conjunction with other city agencies and community partners.
Under Director Donald's leadership, CFSA has demonstrated a steadfast dedication to prevention, accountability, and transparency. Use of best practices in addressing child abuse/neglect while increasing support for families has helped to reduce the number of District children in foster care from about 1,800 at the start of 2012 to less than 700 today.
“At CFSA, we lead with a fundamental belief that parents want the best for their kids. But we understand that sometimes life gets in the way. Our priorities are to provide children with the care and love they need when it is not safe for them at home and support families through their challenges so they can live safe and well with their children. That work doesn't stop, but CFSA has proven that we are a self-regulating, self-correcting agency driven by data, quality, and evidence-based practice,” said CFSA Director Brenda Donald. “The District has made tremendous progress in child welfare reform, and I am so proud to have led the team that transformed CFSA into a high performing agency with a proven commitment to the well-being of children. ”