Children’s Law Center represents the best interests of hundreds of children in foster care, as well as representing foster parents and relative caregivers of children who are in or at risk of entering DC’s child welfare system. While we commend DC’s Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) for significant recent progress, we also recognize that CFSA cannot meet the needs of DC’s foster kids alone. CLC Executive Director Judith Sandalow spoke with Michael Fitzgerald of The Imprint to share why we strongly believe an Office of the Ombudsperson for Children is critical to helping meet these needs:
On Tuesday, a federal judge issued final approval for a settlement between Washington, D.C. and legal advocates, who now say the most obvious of the old systemic problems are fixed. A court-appointed watchdog in place since the early 1990s will now gradually scale back its work scrutinizing the district performance on dozens of quality metrics affecting nearly 700 foster youth and their families, almost all of whom are identified as Black or African-American in city data.
“One of the things that allowed the lawsuit to close is that it’s been going on for a long time. Exhaustion sets in, and people need to find different ways to fix a new set of problems,” said Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, which represents about half of the foster youth in the district. The law center recently helped wage a successful campaign for an Office of the Ombudsperson for Children, which Sandalow sees as the sort of new mechanisms the city will need to replace the accountability the LaShawn litigation forced on the Child and Family Services Agency.
Photo credit: The Imprint